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The BOFFF Hypothesis

Sep 14,2007 SACN

Modern fisheries management has often guided fishermen to select the large individuals of targeted stocks, either by using size-selective gear or releasing small individuals back to the water.

The reasoning has been that this allows smaller, younger individuals to grow up to reproductive age, thereby sustaining the stock.

Recent research, however, shows that removing the larger, older individuals of a population may actually undermine stock replenishment.

This appears especially to be the case for removal of larger, older females, which often produce significantly more offspring ��" and sometimes stronger offspring ��" than younger females do.

Some researchers have proposed the idea that maintaining old-growth age structure can be important for replenishing fished populations.

It is termed the Big Old Fat Fecund Female Fish (BOFFFF)hypothesis.

This month, MPA News briefly examines this hypothesis and what role marine reserves could play in maintaining old-growth age structure of fishery stocks.

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