|Published in||Fisheries Research, v. 160:60-68|
Diaz, M.V., Olivar, M.P. and Macchi, G.J.
Argentinean hake, Merluccius hubbsi, is one of the most important fishery resources of the South-western Atlantic Ocean, but its spawning biomass decreased in the last fifteen years, mainly due to the increased fishing pressure. It is widely accepted that to understand recruitment variability is necessary to study the factors that determine survival of early stages of development. Nutritional condition indexes have been widely used to determine starvation in wild larvae. In the present investigation, condition of M. hubbsi larvae was estimated employing field collected material by means of RNA/DNA index. This is the first attempt to use this index in this species. The change in the RNA/DNA index showed a clear ontogenetic pattern: increasing from preflexion to postflexion stages, showing an apparent decrease at the end of postflexion stage and a conspicuous increase once transformation stage was achieved. This pattern could be indicating that the transition between postflexion and transformation stages might represent a critical phase along larval development. RNA/DNA index also showed significant differences between areas from the spawning grounds characterized by different chlorophyll a concentration and abundance of potential prey. The study of nutritional condition represents a useful tool for identifying favorable nursery areas, providing valuable information for a comprehensive management of a population subject to overfishing.