Implications of a warming North Sea for the growth of haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus
The present study aimed firstly, to test for a temperature effect on North Sea haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus growth and secondly, to develop a model that could be used to assess total length (L T) and mass (M)-at-age response to different temperature scenarios. The von Bertalanffy growth model was fitted on a cohort-by-cohort basis from 1970 to 2006. The asymptotic L T (L ∞) was negatively correlated with temperature while the rate at which L ∞ is reached (K) was positively correlated with temperature. K was negatively correlated with density, whereas no effect on L ∞ was observed. These effects were incorporated into a von Bertalanffy model which was extended to include temperature and density as explanatory variables. Only the temperature variable was significant. Fitting the extended von Bertalanffy model revealed that L ∞ decreased while K increased with increasing temperature, resulting in up to a 40% loss of individual yield at older ages. The dramatic decline observed in the mean age at which 50% of the population becomes mature suggests that higher temperatures resulted in larger young M. aeglefinus that matured earlier and therefore reached a smaller maximum size. In a global warming context, the loss of individual yield observed at old ages is likely to reduce the fisheries yield for M. aeglefinus in the North Sea.
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