SEAwise Report on the key drivers of stock productivity and future environmental scenarios

Fish stocks ecosystem effects productivity fish recruitment fish growth fish mortality


An ecosystem approach to fisheries management requires the consideration of commercial species as components of an ecosystem and the acknowledgement of the links between their productivity and the surrounding environment. To provide a knowledge base for such links, SEAwise consulted stakeholders throughout Europe and conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature.

The systematic review resulted in 2050 articles from the literature search that were screened for their tile and abstract. 516 of them were retained for data extraction. The majority of studies were conducted in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, followed by the Western Waters, and with only a few dozen papers in the Mediterranean Sea. Cod and herring were the most studied species, temperature and more generally climate and hydrodynamics indicators were the main drivers investigated, and reproduction was the main productivity-related process. The output of the systematic review is a database of scientific articles organised by regions, species, environmental drivers and productivity-associated processes and where outcomes, but also spatial and time scales, analytical methods etc. are described in a standardised fashion. This database will be analysed in the coming months and used in the downstream tasks of WP3.

The most frequently driver identified by stakeholders across regions was climate change followed by species interactions, cod, pollution, commercial fish/shellfish and plankton. Climate change effects on stocks through temperature and salinity are relatively well covered in the literature as are effects of plankton and species interaction. Studies of the effects of pollution do not occur frequently and as a consequence require a dedicated effort is made in SEAwise to remedy this. Species reported frequently by the stakeholders included cod, seabass, sardine, sole, crabs, flatfish, Norway lobster, octopus, shrimps, herring, sprat, anchovy, hake, new species (species increasing in abundance as a result of climate change as well as invasive species of commercial interest) and sandeel. Among these, more than 10 papers were retrieved for cod, sardine, sole, herring, sprat, selected flatfish, anchovy, hake and sandeel. For the remaining species, a dedicated effort must be made in SEAwise if they are to be included in stock models.