The dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is a highly migratory pelagic species commercially exploited by industrial, artisanal and recreational fisheries in tropical and subtropical areas of the world’s oceans. Herein, we evaluated the dolphinfish industrial fishery in Pacific Panama for the first time generating a growth model and examining fluctuations in annual total catch and in catch per unit effort (CPUE) over a four-year period (2006-2009). Annual and monthly catch values and biological parameters of 14 913 individuals were obtained onboard industrial vessels, landing sites and records from processing plants. Size frequency for industrial vessels showed a normal distribution between 353 and 1 715 mm (average, 1 010.85 mm; n = 10 459). Fish weight averaged 4.94 kg (SD). Sex ratio was slightly biased toward females. More than 90% of the analyzed fish were sexually mature. The length-weight relationship was positive and significant, reflecting allometric growth. Growth parameters using the von Bertalanffy equation revealed a growth efficiency of θ = 4.61, which is within the reported range for Coryphaena hippurus (3.95-4.70). The largest fish were between age classes 2 and 3 (700-1 400 mm). Total catch per year and catch per unit effort (CPUE) per year fluctuated, with the highest values recorded between 2008 and 2009. Catch values reported herein are preliminary and appear to be below those recorded elsewhere in the region and cautiously may represent an indicator of sustainable use of this marine resource even considering the absence of management actions in Panama.
Keywords: Panama, mahi-mahi, dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, fishery, Eastern Pacific