Scientific and Socioeconomic Impacts

  • Will address a major knowledge gap, specifically the alternative strategies that energy acquired from food is allocated to growth and reproduction.  This is a key aspect in fish bioenergetics, essential for the conceptualization and parameterization of the individual based models that are increasingly being developed to assist the ecosystem-based fisheries management. The newly-acquired biological knowledge on anchovy and sardine will be integrated into multispecies full life cycle sub-models in order to provide a better understanding of the processes that drive population variability of this species pair.
  • Will incorporate state-of-the-art modeling tools to tackle the inter-annual and inter-decadal variability of small pelagic fish which is one of the most emblematic and best-documented cases of fish population fluctuations not explained wholly by fishing effort (Alheit et al. 2009). The modeling will enable the synthesis and extrapolation of the piece-wise process-level data on the physics, lower trophic levels, and fish ecology and behavior that is rapidly accumulating. Short-term and long-term (decadal) simulations of small pelagic fish dynamics will be performed to demonstrate the utility of physics to fish to fishers modeling and how bottom-up (climate and physics) and top-down (e.g. harvest) factors can affect small pelagic fish populations.
  • Future efforts beyond this project will use the models in a comparative manner for the rigorous and systematic evaluation of alternative hypotheses about mechanisms underlying the variability in sardine, anchovy, and other small pelagic species in a variety of systems in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Results will contribute to the mechanistic understanding and improved management of small pelagic fish stocks in the context of climate change.
  • The newly developed modeling tools can be applied to reduce uncertainty in small pelagic fisheries management by allowing for improved prediction of small pelagic fish stock population variability, spatial distributions and habitats, aspects needed for implementing the conservation principles of the ecosystem approach. This is of utmost importance given the significance of small pelagic fish for the commercial fishing industry, contributing up to 50% to global fisheries landings and providing significant number of jobs as well as an important source of income to the local coastal communities.