The Effect of Climatic Variation on Pelagic Fish and Fisheries

  • Jürgen Alheit
  • Eberhard Hagen


Evidence is accumulating that marine ecosystems undergo decadal-scale fluctuations which appear to be driven by climate variability (e.g. Beamish, 1995; Bakun, 1996). Climatic variations affect marine communities and trophodynamic relationships, and may induce regime shifts where the dominant species replace each other on decadal time scales. One way to predict how marine ecosystems will react to future climate variability or to climatic change is to search for causal relationships of past patterns of natural variability and to draw conclusions on the basis of retrospective studies. Long-term biological time-series are essential for such retrospective analyses of climate impact on marine ecosystems; however, they are not readily available. Because of their economical importance, fish populations usually provide longer records than other biological components of marine ecosystems. The dynamics of exploited fish populations are affected by both environmental variability and man-made activities (fishing, habitat alteration) and retrospective studies will help to distinguish between the two. Earlier summaries on climate and fisheries have been published by e.g. Cushing (1982), Wyatt and Larraneta (1988), and Laevastu (1993). More recently, further studies have been stimulated by: the world-wide public awareness of global changes and the predicted greenhouse effect; the initiation of global international research programmes such as the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP); vastly improved co-operation across disciplinary boundaries; and accumulating knowledge on climate variability, particularly on the decadal scale.


North Atlantic Oscillation Index Metric Tonne Small Pelagic Fish Sardine Population International Geosphere Biosphere Programme 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jürgen Alheit
    • 1
  • Eberhard Hagen
    • 1
  1. 1.Baltic Sea Research InstituteWarnemündeGermany

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