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A multidisciplinary approach using genetic markers and tags in horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) stock assessment and management

The purpose of this proposal is to assess the stock status of the horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), which is an important target species for many north-east Atlantic and Mediterranean fisheries. Information is currently lacking for an effective definition of horse mackerel stock boundaries, and this project will evaluate the status of the horse mackerel populations. The results will be integrated from several techniques such as genetic markers, other biological tags like morphometric studies and the use of parasites, physical tagging and life history traits (growth, reproduction and distribution).

The overall objective of this proposal is the biological stock identification of the horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) throughout its distribution range, from the north-eastern Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. This goal will be achieved by applying different approaches to the same sample set. The genetic stock assessment will comprise:
1) the identification of horse mackerel stocks using different molecular markers
2) the evaluation of the levels of the genetic variability
3) the estimation of gene flow between populations.
The genetic stock assessment will be performed by five different genetic approaches comprising the analysis of allozymes, the mitochondrial DNA and the microsatellite DNA.
Other biological tags, morphometric studies and the use of parasites will search for intraspecific variations, and for the interpretation of the infection levels in terms of host population biology. The evaluation of the viability of physical tagging on horse mackerel is the first step needed to apply it in natural populations for migration studies. Different population parameters related to growth reproduction and distribution will be examined to identify management units.
The research will set up an improved multi-disciplinary tool for fish stock identification and assessment, and to improve knowledge of horse mackerel stock structure, in order to allow an enhanced management of horse mackerel resource in European Union waters in the short, medium and long term.

Genetic markers to identify horse mackerel stocks.
The selection of tag parasites.
Results based on morphometric analysis.
Conclusions on the viability of physical tagging and the characateristics of production parameters by area.


Scientist responsible for the project

avda. De BRASIL 31 Box 1240
28020 Santander
Spain - ES

Phone: +34 94 2291060
Fax: +34 94 2275072


Project ID QLRT-1999-01438
Organisation Instituto Espag˝ol de Oceanografia - Centro Oceanogrßfico de Santander
Area 5.1.2
Start date 01 January 2000
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 982 000 €
Total EC contribution   1 319 644 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners

  • Funjdašao da Faculdade de ciencias da Universidade, Portugal - PT
  • Department of Environmental Sciences Tuscia University, Italy - IT

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