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The selection of spawning location of sardine (

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Most reports on the distribution of spawning areas of sardine (Sardinops sagax) in the northern Benguela originate from the 1970s and 1980s. The northern Benguela system was in a high upwelling regime during those decades. Since the early 1990s upwelling favourable winds have decreased and a trend of increasing sea surface temperature (SST) has been observed. Changes in the structure of sardine stock in the northern Benguela have been observed and it has been suggested that a reduced biomass and changes in stock structure has led to decreased spawning in the favourable southern locations, thus preventing a recovery of the sardine stock. The present paper on the contrary shows that there has been a shift in spawning location from the less favourable northern areas in the early 1980s to spawning areas further south in the 2000s. Thus, the failure of the northern Benguela sardine stock to recover since its collapse in the late 1960s cannot be explained by spawning in less favourable areas. The shift in preferred spawning location to more southern areas since the 1980s was to be expected with a general warming of the northern Benguela system. Alternative explanations for the failure of the sardine stock to recover such as a reduction in average length as well as length at 50% maturity, leading to a reduction in reproductive output, increased predation pressure, and increased low oxygen waters are proposed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Marine Information and Research Centre, PO Box 912, Swakopmund, Namibia 2: Fisheries Branch, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay 8012,Cape Town, South Africa 3: Institute for Marine Research, PO Box 1870 Nordnes, N-5817 Bergen, Norway

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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