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Environmental influence on commercial fishery landings of small pelagic fish in Portugal

Abstract

Small pelagic fishes are particularly abundant in areas with high environmental variability (zones of coastal upwelling and areas of tidal mixing and river discharge), and because of this, their abundance suffers large inter-annual and inter-decadal fluctuations. In Portugal, the most important species in terms of landings are European sardine, Atlantic horse mackerel and Atlantic chub mackerel. Small pelagic fish landings account for 62.8 % of the total fish biomass and represent 32.7 % of the economical value of all catches. We have investigated trends in landings of these small pelagic fishes and detected the effects of environmental factors in this fishery. In order to explain the variability of landings of small pelagic fishes, we have used official landings (1965–2012) for trawling and purse seine fisheries and applied generalized linear models, using the North Atlantic Oscillation index (NAO) (annual and winter NAO index), sea surface temperature (SST), wind data (strength and North–South and East–West wind components) and rainfall, as explanatory variables. Regression analysis was used to describe the relationship between landings and SST. The models explained between 50.16 and 51.07 % of the variability of the LPUE, with the most important factors being winter NAO index, SST and wind strength. The LPUE of European sardine and Atlantic horse mackerel was negatively correlated with SST, and LPUE of Atlantic chub mackerel was positively correlated with SST. The use of landings of three important species of small pelagic fishes allowed the detection of variations in landings associated with changes in sea water temperature and NAO index.

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Acknowledgments

This study had the support of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) (UID/MAR/04292/2013). Célia M. Teixeira was funded with a Post-doc Grant (SFRH/BPD/62986/2009), Rita Gamito was funded with a PhD Grant (SFRH/BD/78363/2011) and Francisco Leitão was funded with a Post-doc Grant (SFRH/BPD/63935/2009) by the FCT. We thank Dr. Alexandra Silva (Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera) for the European sardine and Atlantic chub mackerel data.

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Correspondence to Célia M. Teixeira.

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Editor: Wolfgang Cramer.

Alberto G. Murta: Posthumous.

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Teixeira, C.M., Gamito, R., Leitão, F. et al. Environmental influence on commercial fishery landings of small pelagic fish in Portugal. Reg Environ Change 16, 709–716 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0786-1

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Keywords

  • Small pelagic fishes
  • Fisheries
  • Climate change
  • Commercial landings
  • Portugal