Documenting growth parameters and age in Arctic fish species in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas
Forster, C. E., B. L. Norcross, and I. Spies. 2020. Documenting growth parameters and age in Arctic fish species in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2020.104779
Basic life history parameters of arctic fishes have not been well characterized for many species in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Increasing environmental and anthropogenic changes in the Arctic may impact the biology of arctic fishes and can best be evaluated if a benchmark is available against which to evaluate future changes in the biology of arctic fishes. We used data from over 45,000 individual fishes to determine the length and weight relationships of 28 species, and further determined ages of 17 species of Arctic fishes. Specimens that we captured in the Pacific Arctic tended to be small in size, often less than 300 mm, and generally showed positive allometric growth. Despite their small sizes, individuals of some species, especially in Agonidae, Zoarcidae and Stichaeidae, were long-lived, reaching ages of up to 26 years. In the Chukchi Sea, individuals were shorter-lived and tended to be larger and longer-at-age. In contrast, the species that lived longer than a decade reached their maximum ages in the Beaufort Sea. While these long-lived species were smaller at age in the Beaufort Sea, they ultimately reached a greater maximum age than their Chukchi Sea conspecifics. Growth variation can have a large effect on management reference points, and understanding species-specific parameters would be required before any management action is considered, as mandated in the 2009 U.S. Arctic Fisheries Management Plan.