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Influences of large- and regional-scale climate on fish recruitment in the Skagerrak-Kattegat over the last century

Journal article
Authors Hans W. Linderholm
M. Cardinale
Valerio Bartolino
Deliang Chen
Tinghai Ou
H. Svedäng
Published in Journal of Marine Systems
Volume 134
Pages 1-11
ISSN 0924-7963
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 1-11
Language en
Keywords Fish recruitment; Climate; Sea-surface temperature; Atmospheric circulation; Twentieth century; Skagerrak-Kattegat
Subject categories Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


Dynamics of commercial fish stocks are generally associated with fishing pressure and climate variability. Due to short time series, past studies of the relationships between fish stock dynamics and climate have mainly been restricted to the last few decades. Here we analyzed a century-long time series of plaice, cod and haddock from the Skagerrak-Kattegat, to assess the long-term influence of climate on recruitment. Recruitment success (R-s) was compared against sea-surface temperature (SST) and atmospheric circulation indices on large (North Atlantic) and regional (Skagerrak-Kattegat) scales. Our results show that the influence of climate on R-s was more pronounced on longer, than on shorter timescales. Over the century-long period, a shift from low to high climate sensitivity was seen from the early to the late part for plaice and cod, while the opposite was found for haddock. This shift suggests that the increasing fishing pressure and the climate change in the Skagerrak-Kattegat have resulted in an increased sensitivity of R-s to climate for plaice and cod. The diminishing of climate sensitivity in haddock R-s, on the other hand, may be linked to the early twentieth century collapse of the stock in the region. While no long-term relationship between R-s and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) could be found, large R-s fluctuations during the positive phase of the AMO (1935-1960), relative to the cold phases, suggests a changed pattern in recruitment during warm periods. On the other hand, this could be due to the increased fishing pressure in the area. Thus, reported correlations between climate and fish may be caused by strong trends in climate in the late-twentieth century, and coincident reduction in fish stocks caused by intense fishing, rather than a stable relationship between climate and fish recruitment per se. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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