In the brackish Baltic Sea situated in the transition zone between the Atlantic and Euro-Asiatic continental climate systems, the periods of high abundance of sprat of marine boreal origin coincide with a rich freshwater discharge, large water volume inhabitable by fish, rather high winter temperature and low salinity limiting the stock of its main predator—cod (Gadus morhua callarias). In the freshening periods an additional volume of water with acceptable oxygen and temperature conditions for sprat is formed in the Eastern (E) and, especially, the Northwest (NW) regions of the Baltic Sea. This allows extraordinary increase in sprat abundance/biomass. The conditions for sprat deteriorate during the period of active saline water inflows and colder winters, especially in the NW region. Following the decrease in the volume of water acceptable for the wintering of sprat as to temperature and/or oxygen concentration, some part of the stock may be forced to migrate southwards as in the Southwest (SW) region the conditions are the most stable. This may cause an extensive mixing of the stock components of various regions, hindering the differentiation of sprat regional units in the Baltic Sea. As no isolation of regional spawning concentrations has been found, beginning with 1989 the Baltic sprat has been assessed and managed as one stock unit, despite spatial differences in its morphological characters, growth rate etc. The alternation of periods of different regime-forming conditions (freshening or oceanization) is probably triggered by climate changes. This regularity has been exploited for the composition of long-term forecasts of qualitative changes in fish (incl. sprat) stocks in the Baltic Sea.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 20, 2009
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