Exploring non-lethal techniques for sex determination and evaluation of maturity stage of Southern New England monkfish

Project leads: Luisa Garcia and Farrell Davis

Funded by: NOAA Monkfish Research Set-Aside

The project tests gross examination, endoscopy, ultrasound, histology, and hormone analysis as non-lethal detectors for sex determination and creates a reproductive profile based on sex and maturational stage of monkfish. Currently, no reliable method exists for non-lethal sex determination in monkfish, and therefore, this project will  provide a valuable reference guide and new tool(s) to determine sex and maturity stage. This allows researchers to identify spatiotemporal spawning habits while minimizing lethal impact to the stock, leading to rapid identification and monitoring of reproductive timing/intensity and sex ratios in monkfish stocks. Additionally, information from this study informs managers on potential spawning areas, spawning frequency, and spawning seasonality in the Southern New England area where commercial monkfish effort is high.

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(A) Ultrasound image. (B) Opened gut cavity for comparison to ultrasound. (C) Gonad close-up view. (D) Gonadal histology.