A numerical model of the dispersion of blue whiting larvae, Micromesistiuspoutassou (Risso), in the eastern North Atlantic

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A numerical circulation and transport model system was used to simulate the dispersion of larvae of blue whiting, Micromesistius poutassou (Risso) in the eastern North Atlantic. The area of the model extends from the northern Bay of Biscay to the Norwegian Sea and covers the shelf-edge and adjacent waters at a horizontal resolution of around 20 km in 16 vertical layers. Larval input data were based on the long-term mean distribution, abundance and seasonal occurrence of larvae, derived from historical information. The circulation model was run using tidal forcing and climatological density fields as well as both climatological meteorological forcing and actual six-hourly wind stress fields for 1994 and 1995. Transport from the main spawning areas to the west of the British Isles and north of Porcupine Bank was associated with currents along the shelf-edge and in the Rockall Trough. Tracers were either dispersed to the north and north-east along the shelf-edge, extending into the northern North Sea and Norwegian Sea, or were retained in the Rockall Gyre and over Porcupine Bank. A less intense southerly flow from Porcupine Bank was observed both under climatological conditions and in the 1995 simulation, when winds were more variable than in 1994. The results based on the 1995 meteorological conditions showed the most extreme retention of tracers in the Rockall Trough/shelf-edge area west of Scotland and a low penetration of tracers onto the shelf. These results are discussed in relation to the observed distribution of 0-group juveniles and to indices of year-class strength – in particular, in relation to the 1995 year class, which is the highest year-class estimate of blue whiting on record.

Keywords: Micromesistius poutassou; blue whiting larvae; recruitment; shelf-edge current; transport model

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2419.1997.00036.x

Affiliations: 1: Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Notkestrasse 31, 22607 Hamburg, Germany, 2: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, United Kingdom

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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