Health and reproduction of red mullet, Mullus barbatus, in the western Mediterranean Sea

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The reproductive and general health of exploited fish stocks is an essential element of sustainable and profitable fisheries. The main purpose of this study was to assess the relationships between reproduction and two important parameters of fish health (parasitism and energy reserves) in female specimens of red mullet, Mullus barbatus, from the western Mediterranean Sea. We present new data for this species on (i) the prevalence and intensity of infection by metazoan parasites; (ii) the total lipid content in muscle and gonads as a measure of condition and (iii) fecundity and egg quality as a measure of their reproductive capacity. The results show that M. barbatus is a batch spawner with an income breeding strategy, an asynchronous development of oocytes and indeterminate fecundity. The results also indicate that the three most abundant and prevalent parasites significantly affect the condition and reproduction of M. barbatus. Specifically, the digenean, Opecoeloides furcatus, causes a reduction in the female"s energy reserves, while the nematodes, Hysterothylacium fabri and H. aduncum, produce a rise in egg production but impair egg quality. These implications of the relationships between parasitism, fish health and fish reproduction should be taken into consideration in the assessment and management of exploited species ​
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