The Barents Sea ecosystem, one of the most productive and commercially important ecosystems in the world, has experienced major fluctuations in species abundance the past five decades. Likely causes are natural variability, climate change, overfishing, and predator-prey interactions. In this study we use an age-length structured multispecies model (Gadget, Globally applicable Area-Disaggregated General Ecosystem Toolbox) to analyse the historic population dynamics of major fish and marine mammal species in the Barents Sea. The model was used to examine possible effects of a number of plausible biological and fisheries scenarios. The results suggest that changes in cod mortality from fishing or cod cannibalism levels have the largest effect on the ecosystem, while changes to the capelin fishery had only minor effects. Alternate whale migration scenarios had only a moderate impact on the modelled ecosystem. Indirect effects are seen to be important, with cod fishing pressure, cod cannibalism and whale predation on cod having an indirect impact on capelin, emphasising the importance of multi-species modelling in understanding and managing ecosystems. Models such as the one presented here provide one step towards an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management.
|Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
|Published - Oct 2009
- Barents Sea
- Multi-species modelling
- Minke whales
- Northeast Arctic cod
- Norwegian spring-spawning herring