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Characteristics of the Norwegian Coastal Current during Years with High Recruitment of Norwegian Spring Spawning Herring (Clupea harengus L.)

Skagseth, Øy.; Slotte, A.; Stenevik, E.K.år.; Nash, R.D.M.

Plos one 10(12): E0144117

2015


ISSN/ISBN: 1932-6203
PMID: 26636759
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144117
Accession: 057385241

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Norwegian Spring Spawning herring (NSSH) Clupea harengus L. spawn on coastal banks along the west coast of Norway. The larvae are generally transported northward in the Norwegian Coastal Current (NCC) with many individuals utilizing nursery grounds in the Barents Sea. The recruitment to this stock is highly variable with a few years having exceptionally good recruitment. The principal causes of recruitment variability of this herring population have been elusive. Here we undertake an event analysis using data between 1948 and 2010 to gain insight into the physical conditions in the NCC that coincide with years of high recruitment. In contrast to a typical year when northerly upwelling winds are prominent during spring, the years with high recruitment coincide with predominantly southwesterly winds and weak upwelling in spring and summer, which lead to an enhanced northward coastal current during the larval drift period. Also in most peak recruitment years, low-salinity anomalies are observed to propagate northward during the spring and summer. It is suggested that consistent southwesterly (downwelling) winds and propagating low-salinity anomalies, both leading to an enhanced northward transport of larvae, are important factors for elevated recruitment. At the same time, these conditions stabilize the coastal waters, possibly leading to enhanced production and improved feeding potential along the drift route to Barents Sea. Further studies on the drivers of early life history mortality can now be undertaken with a better understanding of the physical conditions that prevail during years when elevated recruitment occurs in this herring stock.

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