Climate change accentuates the need for knowing how temperature impacts the life history and productivity of economically and ecologically important species of fish. We examine the influence of temperature on the timing of the spawning and migrations of North Sea Mackerel using data from larvae CPR surveys, egg surveys and commercial landings from Danish coastal fisheries in the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and inner Danish waters. The three independent sources of data all show that there is a significant relationship between the timing of spawning and sea surface temperature. Large mackerel are shown to arrive at the feeding areas before and leave later than small mackerel and the sequential appearance of mackerel in each of the feeding areas studied supports the anecdotal evidence for an eastward post-spawning migration. Occasional commercial catches taken in winter in the Sound N, Kattegat and Skagerrak together with catches in the first quarter IBTS survey furthermore indicate some overwintering here. Significant relationships between temperature and North Sea mackerel spawning and migration have not been documented before. The results have implications for mackerel resource management and monitoring. An increase in temperature is likely to affect the timing and magnitude of the growth, recruitment and migration of North Sea mackerel with subsequent impacts on its sustainable exploitation.
Continental Shelf Research, 2011, Vol 31, Issue 1, p. 64-72