The fisheries history of small pelagics in the Northern Mediterranean

Since 2007, the biomass of sardine and anchovy in the NW Mediterranean has remained persistently low, whereas the biomass of the commercially low-valued sprat has exploded. Also, simultaneous decreases in condition, size, and/or age of these populations were observed. Altogether, this resulted in a drop in landings of small pelagics. To understand the amplitude of these events and to provide a baseline scenario against which current changes can be compared, we compiled exceptionally long landing series (1865–2013) of sardine, anchovy, and mackerel for different subregions of the southern French coast. We characterized the fluctuations of these landings and compared these with environmental drivers (sea surface temperature, Rhône river discharge, North Atlantic Oscillation, Western Mediterranean Oscillation—WeMO, and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation—AMO), using different time-series analyses. We also collated historical data to infer qualitative changes in fishing effort over time. A fishing effort related increase in landings was observed around 1962 for all three species, although current sardine landings have dropped below levels observed before this period. Sardine and anchovy landings were, respectively, positively and negatively related to the AMO index and anchovy landings were also positively related to the WeMO. We finished by discussing the potential role of the environmental variables and fishing on long-term fishery landings trends.


anchovy, fish landings, Gulf of Lions, historical time series, mackerel, sardine

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Appendix 1
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Figure 1
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Figure 2
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Figure 3
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Figure 4
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Table 1
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Table 2
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Table 3
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Author's final draft
433 Mo
How to cite
Van Beveren Elisabeth, Fromentin Jean-Marc, Rouyer Tristan, Bonhommeau Sylvain, Brosset Pablo, Saraux Claire (2016). The fisheries history of small pelagics in the Northern Mediterranean. Ices Journal Of Marine Science. 73 (6). 1474-1484.,

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