Migration and fisheries of north east atlantic mackerel (scomber scombrus) in autumn and winter
Payne, Mark R.
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Jansen, Teunis; Campbell, Andrew; Kelly, Ciarán; Hátún, Hjálmar; Payne, Mark R. (2012). Migration and fisheries of north east atlantic mackerel (scomber scombrus) in autumn and winter. PLoS ONE 7 (12),
It has been suggested that observed spatial variation in mackerel fisheries, extending over several hundreds of kilometers, is reflective of climate-driven changes in mackerel migration patterns. Previous studies have been unable to clearly demonstrate this link. In this paper we demonstrate correlation between temperature and mackerel migration/distribution as proxied by mackerel catch data from both scientific bottom trawl surveys and commercial fisheries. We show that mackerel aggregate and migrate distances of up to 500 km along the continental shelf edge from mid-November to early March. The path of this migration coincides with the location of the relatively warm shelf edge current and, as a consequence of this affinity, mackerel are guided towards the main spawning area in the south. Using a simulated time series of temperature of the shelf edge current we show that variations in the timing of the migration are significantly correlated to temperature fluctuations within the current. The proposed proxies for mackerel distribution were found to be significantly correlated. However, the correlations were weak and only significant during periods without substantial legislative or technical developments. Substantial caution should therefore be exercised when using such data as proxies for mackerel distribution. Our results include a new temperature record for the shelf edge current obtained by embedding the available hydrographic observations within a statistical model needed to understand the migration through large parts of the life of adult mackerel and for the management of this major international fishery.