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Historical spatiotemporal dynamics of eastern North Sea cod

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Recent analyses of historical data of fish abundance and distribution have shown the importance of a long temporal perspective in the evaluation of the current status of fish populations, but pose numerous difficulties such as fragmentation and inhomogeneities in the amount of available information in space and time. Using mixed-effects models in a multiscale analysis, we identified an appropriate spatiotemporal scale of investigation of a high-quality, spatially explicit historical data set, and we reconstructed the long-term spatial dynamics of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Kattegat–Skagerrak along the 20th century. We identified a northern and southern main aggregation of adult cod in the study area, corresponding to the Skagerrak portion of the North Sea and the Kattegat cod stocks, respectively. The stocks showed specificities in their spatial dynamics, but common extensive loss of coastal aggregations during the last decades when only 13% (Kattegat) and 35% (Skagerrak) of the estimated early century cod biomass was left. Our reconstruction showed that the collapse of the cod stocks in the area followed the peak in landings in the 1960s–1970s, suggesting that the postwar development of the industrial fisheries played a major role in the decrease of local abundances and disappearance of local adult cod aggregations.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources, Marine Research Institute, 45330 Lysekil, Sweden. 2: University of Gothenburg, Department of Earth Sciences, Regional Climate Group, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden. 3: Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden.

Publication date: May 5, 2012

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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