Morphological identification of scabbardfishes
The black scabbardfish has been subjected to a commercial fishery in the waters of the archipelago of Madeira for more than 150 years, which is probably the oldest deep-sea commercial fishery in the world. Over this period the presence of two sympatric species (Aphanopus carbo Lowe, 1839 and A. intermedius Parin, 1983) in the area has been ignored, mainly due to the difficulty in separating the two species using external morphological characters.
The need for a more accurate management of this highly important resource, reinforced by an emergent fishery in Portugal mainland and elsewhere in the North Atlantic, justified a new effort for morphological characterization of the two species, based on the largest genetically validated sample obtained to date.
The results presented in this paper demonstrate that it is possible to discriminate the two species on the bases of meristic and morphometric data using discriminant analysis. The outcome of this analysis is supported by the genetic identification based on CR and COI sequences. In addition, a redescription of A. intermedius incorporating the new character ranges found is presented.