History of hydroacoustic surveys of small pelagic fish species in the European Mediterranean Sea

The study of small pelagic fish by hydroacoustic methods in the Mediterranean Sea began in the Adriatic in the 1950’s. Since 2009, internationally coordinated, extensive, regular surveys have been conducted in the framework of the MEDIAS - Mediterranean International Acoustic Surveys – action, under the EU Data Collection Framework, to provide inputs for the management of small pelagics, particularly European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and European sardine (Sardina pilchardus). The surveys cover EU Mediterranean waters and monitor the distribution and abundance of small pelagic species using a common protocol. The hydroacoustic surveys, historically conducted by each EU State separately, have since been standardized and harmonized. We review their evolution from the beginning to the present and discuss their future prospects. We also report the historical time series of anchovy, sardine and other small pelagics in different areas and describe the spatial and temporal distribution of small pelagic species in decadal maps of the major areas of their distribution in the European Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, we discuss the use of MEDIAS data for stock assessment purposes, the collection of auxiliary information for an Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) approach, the need for further standardization and future challenges.


Acoustic survey, Mediterranean Sea, small pelagic, anchovy, sardine, MEDIAS

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Leonori IOLE, Tičina VJEKOSLAV, Giannoulaki MARIANNA, Hattab Tarek, Iglesias MAGDALENA, Bonanno ANGELO, Costantini ILARIA, Canduci GIOVANNI, Machias ATHANASSIOS, Ventero ANA, Somarakis STYLIANOS, Tsagarakis KONSTANTINOS, Bogner DANIJELA, Barra MARCO, Basilone GUALTIERO, Genovese SIMONA, Juretić TEA, Gašparević DENIS, de Felice ANDREA (2021). History of hydroacoustic surveys of small pelagic fish species in the European Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean Marine Science. 22 (4). 751-768. https://doi.org/10.12681/mms.26001, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00760/87247/

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