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Alternating dominance of postlarval sardine and anchovy caught by coastal fishery in relation to the Kuroshio meander in the Enshu-nada Sea

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In the mid 1970s, the fishery catch of postlarval Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonica) in a shelf region of the Enshu-nada Sea, off the central Pacific coast of Japan, started to decline corresponding to a rapid increase of postlarval sardine (Sardinops melanostictus). In late 1980s, sardine started to decline, and it was replaced by anchovy in the 1990s. This alternating dominance of postlarval sardine and anchovy corresponded to the alternation in egg abundance of these two species in the spawning habitat of this sea. It was also noteworthy that during the period of sardine decline, sardine spawning occurred in April–May, a delay of two months compared with spawning in the late 1970s.

The implication of oceanographic changes in the spawning habitat for the alternating dominance of sardine and anchovy eggs was explored using time-series data obtained in 1975–1998, focusing on the effect of the Kuroshio meander. Large meanders of the Kuroshio may have enhanced the onshore intrusion of the warm water into the shelf region and contributed to an increase in temperature in the spawning habitat. This might favour sardine, because its egg abundance in the shelf region was more dependent on the temperature in early spring than was that of anchovy. In addition, enhanced onshore intrusion could contribute to transport of sardine larvae from upstream spawning grounds of the Kuroshio region. On the other hand, anchovy egg abundance was more closely related to lower transparency at the shelf edge, which may indicate the prevalence and prolonged residence of the coastal water, and therefore higher food availability, frequently accompanying non-meandering Kuroshio.

The expansion/shrinkage of the spawning habitat of sardine and anchovy in the shelf region, apparently responding to the change in the Kuroshio, possibly makes the alternation in dominance of postlarval sardine and anchovy most prominent in the Enshu-nada Sea, in combination with changes in the abundance of spawning adults, which occurred almost simultaneously in the overall Kuroshio region. The implication of this rather regional feature for the alternating dominance of sardine and anchovy populations on a larger spatial scale is also discussed.

Keywords: Engraulis japonica; Enshu-nada Sea; Kuroshio meander; Sardinops melanostictus; anchovy; dominance alternation; sardine

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Fisheries, Nagasaki University, 1–14 Bunkyo-machi, Nagasaki 852-8521, Japan, 2: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aichi Prefectural Government, 3–1–2 San-no Maru, Nakaku, Nagoya 460–8501, Japan, 3: Marine Resources Research Center, Aichi Prefectural Fisheries Research Institute, Minamichita, Aichi 447–3412, Japan

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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