A tag-recapture study was undertaken on Polysteganus praeorbitalis in the Pondoland Marine Protected Area (PMPA) on the east coast of South Africa. A total of 1 042 fish were tagged over a period of 16 years and 255 individuals (24.5%) were recaptured, some of them on multiple occasions. Data analysis showed that 84.7% of recaptured fish remained in relatively small home ranges (-750 m linear distance), while 13.3% abandoned their home ranges and undertook unidirectional movements (of 21-1 211 km) along the KwaZulu-Natal coast in a north-easterly direction, most likely to spawn. While the no-take area of the PMPA provides effective protection for resident fish, the export of adult P. praearbitalis provides strong evidence of the benefits that no-take MPAs can offer to adjacent fisheries. Based on the tag-recapture length data, the growth rate was found to be relatively slow, averaging 46 mm y-1. This growth rate was similar to that determined by a study of ageing using sectioned otoliths. Reliable tag-recapture data can thus be used to provide a valuable means of validating growth rates determined by other methods.

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