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Metapenaeus monoceros (Fabricius, 1798)

  SPECIES DESCRIPTION
  ECOLOGY
    Geographical distribution
    Habitats
    Migrations
  BIOLOGICAL INFORMATION
    Maximum size
    Spawning
    Length at first maturity
    Eggs, larvae and post-larvae
    Recruitment and nursery areas
    Sex ratio
    Length-weight relationships
    Maximum age and natural mortality
    Von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF)
    Feeding behaviour
    Stock units
  EVALUATION AND EXPLOITATION
    Biomass indices from trawl surveys
    Strength of recruitment
    Stock assessment
    Fisheries
    Fishing zones and seasons
    Yeld
    Fishing and discards
    Gears
    Legislation and management


Figure 35. Metapenaeus monoceros (from Fischer et al., 1987).

   
Class:  Malacostraca
Order:  Decapoda
Family:  Penaeidae
English name:  Speckled shrimp
   

SPECIES DESCRIPTION

Metapenaeus monoceros (Speckled shrimp) belongs to the family Penaeidae. It is a medium size shrimp with maximum total length 15 cm for males and 19.5 cm females (Fischer et al., 1987). Generally, total length ranges from 1.05 to 13.5 cm. It has a pale grey with dark brown spots. The rostral and abdominal carenes are brown, the antennae red. The esoskeleton is covered with stiff. Pereopods and pleopods are of the same colour as the body, sometimes more vivid. The distal part of the uropods are purple blue, the outer edge of esopodites red. The rostrum is of the same length of the tip of antennular peduncle and has 9-12 teeth. The carapace has robust antennal and small hepatic spines. The ridge bounds a well-marked postantennular groove which meets cervical groove. The carina post-rostrum spans backward up to the posterior margin of the carapace. The body is pinkish, greyish green or whitish with brown spots. Rostral and abdominal carenes are brown, antennae red. The telson has lateral edges trimmed with tiny spines of the same size and culminate in a single sharp point.

ECOLOGY

Geographical distribution
Metapenaeus monoceros was originally found in the Indo-West Pacific, along the African coast to the Red Sea and around India to the Bay of Bengal. It has migrated through the Suez Canal into the Eastern Mediterranean since 1927 [1924] (Balss, 1927), being recorded in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Tunisia (Galil et al., 2002; Holthuis, 1987).

Habitats
M. monoceros is a demersal species that lives in shallow water down to 60 meters, mostly between 10 and 30 meters. The species prefers sandy and sandy-mud bottoms. It is a euryhaline species which lives in brackish to marine salinities as low as 5 and up to 30‰. Juveniles are found in estuaries, lagoons or coastal areas, the adults further offshore. The species has high commercial value. It is important in some African countries like Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania and it is one of the dominant species of Madagascar. It is also important in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden and the southern part of the Red Sea, as well as in most parts of India (especially Kerala and the Ganges Delta) and Pakistan. It is cultivated in rice fields in Bangladesh and India. Now, it is also trawled in the Eastern Mediterranean off the southern coast of Turkey, on the continental shelf off Palestine, off Alexandria, Egypt and off the southern coasts of Tunisia, Gulf of Gabès, (GSA 14) (Galil et al., 2002; Missaoui and Zaouali, 1995; Holthuis, 1980; 1987).

Migrations
M. monoceros in figure shows a bathymetric distribution related to size: the smaller specimens are caught more frequently on the outer continental shelf (2-10m depth), whereas the larger ones are mainly distributed down to 50 m depth. Juveniles inhabit estuaries (Fisher and Bianchi, 1984; Wadie and Abdel Razek, 1985; Holthuis, 1987). The same bathymetrical pattern was also observed in the Gulf of Gabès (Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).

BIOLOGICAL DATA

Maximum size
The maximum size registered for M. monoceros in the Gulf of Gabès (GSA 14) is 178 mm total length (TL) for female (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah, 2012) and 160 mm for male (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2010).

Spawning
According to Serpil Yilmaz et al. (2009), in the Gulf of Antalya (Turkey, north levant Mediterranean, GSA 24), M. monoceros spawns, in December-January.
On the basis of the evolution of mature males by months, Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al. (2010) reported that reproduction in the GSA 14 occurs all year round, although the highest percentage of mature males is found from May to December. They also reported that mature females occur twice per year with a first spawing period in spring (May-June) and a second more intense one in autumn (October-November).

Length at first maturity
In the GSA 14, length at 50% maturity was found 76.7 mm and 117.6 mm total length in males and females respectively (Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).
The length at first maturity in the GSA 24 was 75 mm TL for males and 115 mm for females (Serpil Yilmaz et al., 2009).

Eggs, larvae and post-larvae
The small amount information available on eggs and larvae is from the Indian Ocean.
Seasonal distribution of the larvae and post-larvae of M. monoceros of the Cochin area during the years 1966-67, 1967-68 and 1968-69 showed that annual fluctuations in the occurrence of the larvae and post-larvae of the species were very wide. A greater abundance of the larvae in the inshore waters during the year seems to indicate a good prawn fishery in the subsequent season. The larvae of the species are able to withstand a wide range in salinity (Rao, 1972).
Hassan (1983) studying the egg and larvae distribution of the species in the coasts of Pakistan, showed that increased larval abundance coincide with increasing temperature. Moreover, he indicated that abundance of larvae during summer is also correlated with increased production of phytoplankton and micro organisms. According to the same Author, there are also several other factors which presumably influence the abundance of the species eggs and larvae such as turbidity of sea water due to monsoonal turbulence that may facilitate survival and abundance of some larval stages.

Recruitment and nursery areas
Although no specific information on recruitment of this species is avaialble in literature it is generally thougth that M. monocerus recruits in very shallow waters.

Sex ratio
In the Gulf of Gabès (GSA 14), the global sex ratio (SR), for M. monoceros, as number of females out of the total number of sexed specimens, was 0.6 (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2009). However, in the interval 70-100 mm (total length), the males prevail. Outside this interval, females are prevalent (Figure 36).
In the same area, the monthly evolution of the sex-ratio during the period between January 2007 and January 2008 shows that this parameter is always in favour of females. However, there are significant variations according to the months, especially in March, September and October (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2009).
In the Gulf of Antalya (GSA 24), Serpil Yilmaz et al. (2009) reported that females and males of this shrimp made up 0.72 and 0.28 respectively.


Figure 36. Sex ratio by size of M. monoceros in GSA 14 (Redrawn from Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2009).

Length-weight relationships
The parameters of the length-weight relationships for M. monoceros are reported in Table 12. M. monocheros generally idsplays an isometric length-weight relationship in females and a positive allometric length-weight relationship in males.

Table 12. Parameters of the length-weight relationships of M. monoceros in GSAs 14 and 24.

Author GSA Sex a b Period


Ben Abdallah- Ben Hadj Hamida (2012)


Serpil Yilmaz et al. (2009)


Becer Ozvarol et al. (2006)


14


24

24
F+M

F
M

F+M

F
M
1.2788E-05

6.5046E-06
5.7174E-06

0.1287

0.1313
0.2417
3.0508

3.0294
2.8672

2.97

2.97
2.35


2005-2008


2002-2003

2002-2003
 

Maximum age and natural mortality
According to Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al. (2010), life span of M. monoceros in GSA 14 is 2 years, being the maximum age 2.2 years for females and 1.5 years for males.
The natural mortality (M) values, for this shrimp in the Gulf of Gabès (GSA 14) were estimated by Ben Abdallah- Ben Hadj Hamida (2012), on the basis of a comparison of results produced by different methods (Pauly, 1980; Rikhter and Efanov, 1976; Taylor, 1959; Cushing, 1968) varying between 1.73 year-1 in female and 2.74 year-1 in male.
An estimate of the M vector for M. monoceros by the Gislason et al. (2010) model was used in length cohort analysis by Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida (2012) (Figure 37).


Figure 37. Vector of natural mortality for M. monoceros in the Gulf of Gabès estimated by the Gislason et al. (2010) model (Redrawn from Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2009).

Von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF)
The Von Bertalanffy growth function parameters, by sex available for the Gulf of Gabès area (GSA 14) are reported in the Table 13 (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2010).

Author GSA

Females

Males

Period
L k t0 L k t0

Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah (2010)

14 19.33 1.36 0.04 16.96 2.02 0.01 2005-2008

Feeding behaviour
Working on stomach contents of Metapenaeus monoceros in the Gulf of Gabès, Tabka-Belkhodja (2004) noted the existence of crustaceans (amphipods and copepods), molluscs (cephalopods, bivalves and gastropods), Polycheata, sponge spicules, prickles of echinoderms, fish scales, foraminifera and plant debris. This author also demonstrated that the food spectrum of this species varies seasonally and according to size. In fact, in fall shrimp feeds mainly on plants and foraminifera as well as amphipods and copepods. In winter, the diet of this crustacean is composed largely of Polycheata beside amphipods and copepods. While in spring crustaceans, molluscs and Polycheata dominate the stomach contents of the species. According Tabka-Belkhodja (2004), smaller individuals feed mainly on copepods and shells while the biggest prefer amphipods, cephalopods, Polycheata and echinoderms.

Stock units
This species appeared in the Gulf of Gabès (GSA 14) in 1995. Although no information on stock structure of this species in the Mediterranean are available, the M. monocerus in the GSA 14 is assumed to be one stock unit.

EVALUATION AND EXPLOITATION

Biomass indices from trawl surveys
No information on the biomass indices of the species from trawl surveys is available.

Strength of recruitment
In 2007-2008, the mean number of recruits for M. monoceros in the Gulf of Gabès (GSA 14) estimated by Length Cohort Analysis was 102207802 (91.402 tones) for females and 93210120.72 (90.421 tons) for males (Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).

Stock assessment
Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida (2012) assessed the speckled shrimp stock in GSA 14 by Length-Cohort and Yield-per-Recruit analyses of length–frequency distributions, by sex representative of M. monoceros landings in 2007-2008 (mean: 1006 tons). Regardless of the different value of natural mortality used, speckled shrimp appears to be overfished (Table 14). To reach Y/Rmax current F should be reduced by 67% for females and 68% for males. More severe reduction of current F is advisable if Y/R0.1 is chosen as a target reference point. Furthermore, the current SPR, calculated as current SSB/R excluding virgin SSB/R, was only 8-13%, suggesting overfishing especially on recruits. This low value is very far from the value currently considered as a limiting reference point (SPR about 20–40%) to avoid the reduction of recruitment in an exploited stock.
The results of pseudo-cohort analysis on M. monoceros showed that the average annual biomass of this species in the gulf of Gabès during 2007-2008 was estimated to be about 1148.9 tons and 2604 tons respectively for males and females. In this area, the individuals’ total number was estimated to 260.8 million and 409.3 million respectively for the two sexes. Furthermore, the fishing mortality coefficients variation, as a function of size, shows that trawling primarily targets medium-sized individuals, while artisanal fishing is directed specifically towards large and medium size individuals (Figures 38 and 39).

Fisheries
M. monoceros is regularly caught by trammel nets in shallower waters (5-25 m) and by trawlers in a depth range of 30 to 50 m (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2009; 2010).

Table 14: Main results of length-cohort and Y/R analyses M. monoceros in GSA 14 (from Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012). Recruitment is in millions of individuals, age is in years, total length (TL) is in centimetres, weight is in grams. R = recruit; Y = yield; M = natural mortality; F = fishing mortality; SSB = spawning stock biomass; SPR = spawning potential ratio.

Parameters

Vectorial M

Females Males

Recruits at 5 cm TL (in millions)
Mean Z
Mean F
Exploited critical age
Virgin critical age
Exploited critical length (TL)
Virgin critical length (TL)
Current Y/R (in grams)
Y/Rmax
Y/R0.1
Current SSB/R
Virgin SSB/R
Current SPR
Factor per Y/Rmax
Factor per Y/R0.1

102.207
0.632
0.546
7.319
15.433
11
16
5.708
6.536
6.194
8.433
105.495
0.08
0.33
0.19
93.210
0.972
0.856
5.2
8.487
10
13
4.536
5.043
4.761
8.674
67.124
0.13
0.32
0.18


Figure 38. Fishing mortality variation regarding total length of M. monoceros males in GSA 14 (Redrawn from Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).

Fishing zones and seasons
In Tunisian waters, M. monoceros is only encountered in the south-eastern coasts represented by the Gulf of Gabès (Ben Hadj Hamida-Ben Abdallah et al., 2009; 2010).
In this area, trawling for shrimp fishing is authorized each year, at depths greater than 30 metres during two periods of a month and a half each; the first from 15th May to 30 th June and the second from 16 th October to 30 th November. Shrimp fishing by trammel nets goes from April to August, coinciding with the summer during which climatic conditions and abundance of shrimp foster good yields. During this period, the activity of the fleet is not regular. It is conditioned by the strength of tidal currents that can tilt the threads on the bottom. No information is available for Libyan coast.


Figure 39. Fishing mortality variation regarding total length of M. monoceros females in GSA 14 (Redrawn from Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).

Yeld
Since its appearance in 1994, the speckled shrimp Metapenaeus monoceros has been exploited in the Gulf of Gabès (GSA 14) by trawlers as well as artisanal fishery units. Over the years, this species has increasingly been landed at the main ports of the southern part of Tunisia. Production has also fluctuated significantly.
During the first five years after its appearance in the GSA 14, the speckled shrimp yield was low and did not exceed 200 tons. Since 1999, yield has increased considerably to reach a first peak in 2000 with more than 2484 tons. The contributions of this species have declined then during 2001 (770 tonnes). In 2002, the yield of M. monoceros recovered and rose again to record a maximum of more than 2557 tonnes in 2004. Over the last five years, the contribution of the species has declined significantly until 2008 when it was at its lowest since the onset of the shrimp in the Gulf of Gabès (Figure 40).


Figure 40. Total, artisanal fishery and trawlers yield of M. monoceros in GSA 14 from 1994 to 2009 (Redrawn from Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).

The landings from benthic trawling are larger than the contributions of artisanal fishery. Indeed, the first units contribute, on average, about 70% of the total yield of the species.
For all the fleets, the most important landings of M. monoceros in the Gulf of Gabès are recorded in the main ports of the governorate of Sfax (Figure 41).

Figure 41. Contribution of the main fleets in the governorates of Sfax, Gabès and Medenine to the yield of M. monoceros in 1994-2009 (Redrawn from Ben Abdallah-Ben Hadj Hamida, 2012).

Fishing and discards
M. monoceros is generally fished together with Melicertus kerathurus (Caramote prawn), Sepia officinalis (Common cuttlefish), Diplodus annularis (Annular seabream), Mullus barbatus (Red mullet), Lithognathus mormyrus (Striped seabream) and Solea sp.
The landings of this species by the banned gear called ‘kiss’ or mini-trawl, which operates in very low depths (10-20 m), are usually accompanied by significant quantities of discards.

Gears
The speckled M. monoceros exploitation in the Gulf of Gabès is carried out by two types of fishing: coastal or artisanal fishery (using trammel nets) and benthic trawling (using the shrimp bottom trawl). Moreover, it should be noted that this species is also landed in significant quantities by fishing units through illegal gear called mini-trawl or ‘kiss’. However, the contributions of these units are not reported in the fishery statistics.
Bottom trawling for shrimp, essentially in the southern region of Tunisia (Gulf of Gabès), is carried out with netting with a small mesh size (from 48 mm in the wings to 40 mm in the cod-end). The average vertical mouth opening is 2 m.
Trammel wire 40 000 (40 000 mesh / kg) is used in southern Tunisia for shrimp fishery and is composed of three layers of netting. The middle layer presents a mesh size of about 22 to 24 mm and a low hanging ratio which is less than 0.5 for some slack that promotes capture.
The two other layers are in turn stretched mesh 5 to 7 times greater than that of the previous one.

Legislation and management
No legislation or management measures concerning the speckled shrimp M. monoceros fishery in the Gulf of Gabès.
However, this species is generally captured in association with the caramote prawn M. kerathurus of which fishing activities are regulated by the law of September 28th 1995. This regulation only allows trawling for shrimp at depths greater than 30 meters during two periods:

  • From 15 th May to 30 th June

  • From 16 th October to 30 th November.

Outside these two periods trawling activities are authorised in the area beyond 50m depth.
An historical excursus of the regulations on shrimp fisheries in the GSA 14 is reported in the chapter on M. kerathurus.

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