Reproduction of Merluccius merluccius (Actinopterygii: Merlucciidae) from the northern Atlantic coasts of Morocco based on histological analysis of gonads




Merluccius merluccius, Atlantic, Morocco, histology, hermaphrodite, reproduction, gonad


The hake (Merluccius merluccius) fishery occupies an important place in the Moroccan trawl fishery. Despite the ecological and commercial value of this species, the reproductive biology of European hake populations in Moroccan coastal waters has been little studied. Here, we describe the seasonal variations of gonad histology of hake collected from August 2017 to August 2018 along the northern Atlantic coast of Morocco. The histological changes were compared with macroscopical changes, and the body length at first maturity (L50) was calculated. The results revealed differences between macroscopic and histological maturity staging of the gonads. The L50 was estimated to be 34.7 cm for females and 28.6 cm for males (histology-based) and 30.6 cm for females and 26.8 cm for males (macroscopy-based). In addition, the observations of ovarian maturity indicated the presence of a protracted spawning season throughout the year with a peak around January and in midsummer.


Download data is not yet available.


Bahamonde P.A., Munkittrick K.R., Martyniuk C.J. 2013. Intersex in teleost fish: are we distinguishing endocrine disruption from natural phenomena? Gen. Comp. Endocr. 192: 25-35. PMid:23603430

Barber B.J., Blake N.J. 2006. Reproductive physiology. In: Shumway S. E., Parsons G. J. (eds): Scallops: biology, ecology, and aquaculture. Elsevier. Amsterdam, pp. 357-406.

Bittner D., Bernet D., Wahli T., et al. 2009. How normal is abnormal? Discrimination between deformations and natural variation in gonad morphology of European whitefish Coregonus lavaretus. J. Fish Biol. 74: 1594-1614. PMid:20735656

Cervino S. 2014. Estimating growth from sex ratio-at-length data in species with sexual size dimorphism Fish. Res. 160: 112-119.

Costa A.M. 2013. Somatic condition, growth and reproduction of hake, Merluccius merluccius L., in the Portuguese coast. Open J. Mar. Sci. 13: 12-30.

Costa A.M., Silva M.C. 2016. Why do we need histology of hake (Merluccius merluccius) gonads? The Portuguese case. Relat. Cient. Téc. Portugal, 14 pp.

Dietrich D., Krieger H., Rumpf S., et al. 2009. Histological Analysis of Endocrine Disruptive Effects in Small Laboratory Fish. Wiley-Interscience. 369pp.

Dominguez-Petit R., Alonso-Fernández A., Saborido-Rey F. 2008. Reproductive strategy and oocyte recruitment process of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) in Galician shelf waters. Cybium. 32: 317-318.

El Bouzidi C., Abid N., Awadh H., et al. 2022. Growth and mortality of the European hake Merluccius merluccius (Linnaeus, 1758) from the North of Moroccan Atlantic coasts, Egypt. J. Aquat. Res. 48: 233-239.

El Habouz H., Recasens L., Kifani S., et al. 2011. Maturity and batch fecundity of the European hake (Merluccius merluccius, Linnaeus, 1758) in the eastern central Atlantic. Sci. Mar. 75: 447-454.

Engelhard G. H., Heino M. 2006. Climate change and condition of herring (Clupea harengus) explain long- term trends in extent of skipped reproduction. Oecologia 149: 593-603. PMid:16865409

FAO/CECAF. 2017. Working Group on the Assessment of Demersal Resources. Subgroup North. Tenerife, Spain, pp. 6-15.

Fournie J.W., Krol R.M., Hawkins W.E. 2000. Fixation of fish tissues. In The laboratory fish. Academic Press, 2000. pp. 569-578.

Grim K.C., Wolfe M., Hawkins W., et al. 2007. Intersex in Japanese medaka (Corsivo) used as negative controls in toxicologic bioassays: a review of 54 cases from 41 studies. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 26: 1636-1643. PMid:17702336

Holden M.J., Raitt D.F.S. 1974. Manuel des sciences halieutiques. Deuxième partie. Méthodes et recherches sur les ressources et leur application. Doc. Tech. FAO, 223 pp.

ICES. 1988. Working Group on Assessment of Hake Stocks. Copenaghen, 51 pp.

Institut National de Recherche Halieutique (INRH). 2019. Rapport annuel d'Etat des stocks et des pêcheries Marocaines au Maroc, Depmt. Des Péches, Maroc, Casablanca, ISSN : 2509-1727, 565pp.

Jobling S., Nolan M., Tyler CR., et al. 1998. Widespread sexual disruption in wild fish. Environ Sci Tech. 32: 2498-2506.

Kahraman A.E., Yıldız T., Uzer U., Karakulak F.S. 2017. Age composition, growth and mortality of European hake Merluccius merluccius (Linnaeus, 1758) from the Sea of Marmara, Turkey. Acta Zool. Bulg. 69: 377-384.

Khoufi W., Ferreri R., Jaziri H., et al. 2014. Reproductive traits and seasonal variability of Merluccius merluccius from the Tunisian coast. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. UK. 94: 1545-1556.

Lahrizi H. 1996. Etude de la biologie de croissance et de reproduction du merlu blanc Merluccius merluccius (L. 1758) débarqué par les chalutiers au port de Casablanca. PhD thesis, Mohamed 7. Univ. Rabat.

Lloris D., Matallanas J., Oliver P. 2005. Hakes of the world (Family Merlucciidae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of hake species known to date. FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. Rome, FAO. 57pp.

Murua H. 2010. The Biology and Fisheries of European Hake, Merluccius merluccius, in the North-East Atlantic. Adv. Mar. Biol. 58: 97-154. PMid:20959157

Murua H., Motos L. 2006. Reproductive strategy and spawning activity of the European hake Merluccius merluccius (L.) in the Bay of Biscay. J. Fish Biology. 69: 1288-1303.

Roa R., Ernst B., Tapia. F. 1999. Estimation of size at sexual maturity: an evaluation of analytical and resampling procedures, Fish. Bull. 97: 570-580.

Shihab I., Gopalakrishnan A., Vinesh N., et al. 2017. Histological profiling of gonads depicting protandrous hermaphrodistism in Eleutheronema tetradactylus. J. Fish. Biol. 90: 202-211 PMid:28474376

Todd E.V., Liu H., Muncaster S., Gemmell N.J. 2016. Bending Genders: The Biology of Natural Sex Change in Fish. Sex Dev. 10: 223-241. PMid:27820936



How to Cite

El Bouzidi C, Segner H, Oufdou H, Benziane M, Chiaar A, Bakkali M, Hassani Zerrouk M. Reproduction of Merluccius merluccius (Actinopterygii: Merlucciidae) from the northern Atlantic coasts of Morocco based on histological analysis of gonads. scimar [Internet]. 2023Oct.3 [cited 2023Dec.10];87(3):e069. Available from: