Sudden change in long-term ocean climate fluctuations corresponds with ecosystem alterations and reduced recruitment in Norwegian spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus, Clupeidae)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionFish and Fisheries. 2019, 20 (4), 686-696. 10.1111/faf.12369
Fish stocks vary in abundance. The causes behind the fluctuations may be difficult to determine, especially ones caused by natural fluctuations, but long‐term data series may provide indications of the mechanisms. Assessments show that the recruitment to the Norwegian spring‐spawning herring (Clupea harengus, Clupeidae) has remained low since 2004, a year which produced the last really rich year‐class. Long time‐series of estimated recruitment and mean winter temperature in the ocean showed a significant positive correlation for the period 1921–2004. Here, we show that this positive correlation did not continue from 2005 onwards as the winter temperature increased to high levels while herring recruitment decreased and has remained low. The density of zooplankton in the drift route of the herring larvae dropped significantly after 2004, and their centre of gravity shifted northwards. There may currently be heavy predation on the larvae by Atlanic mackerel (Scomber scombrus, Scombridae), and top‐down regulation is suggested to hamper successful recruitment. Our analysis indicates that the presence of food and overlap with high food concentrations are likely important regulators of survival in herring larvae. The findings may be important for future management and planning of fisheries of this stock because recruitment failure may continue if temperature remains high and food abundance remains low.