Horizontal distribution and overlap of planktivorous fish stocks in the Norwegian Sea during summers 1995-2006

Kjell Rong Utne, Geir Huse, Geir Ottersen, Jens Christian Holst, Vladimir Zabavnikov, Jan Arge Jacobsen, Guðmundur J. Óskarsson, Leif Nøttestad

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62 Citations (Scopus)


The Norwegian Sea harbours several large pelagic fish stocks, which use the area for feeding during the summer. The period 1995–2006 had some of the highest biomass of pelagic fish feeding in the Norwegian Sea on record. Here we address the horizontal distribution and overlap between herring, blue whiting and mackerel in this period during the summers using a combination of acoustic, trawl and LIDAR data. A newly developed temperature atlas for the Norwegian Sea is used to present the horizontal fish distributions in relation to temperature. The centre of gravity of the herring distribution changed markedly several times during the investigated period. Blue whiting feeding habitat expanded in a northwestern direction until 2003, corresponding with an increase in abundance. Strong year classes of mackerel in 2001 and 2002 and increasing temperatures throughout the period resulted in an increased amount of mackerel in the Norwegian Sea. Mackerel was generally found in waters warmer than 8°C, while herring and blue whiting were mainly found in water masses between 2 and 8°C. The horizontal overlap between herring and mackerel was low, while blue whiting had a large horizontal overlap with both herring and mackerel. The changes in horizontal distribution and overlap between the species are explained by increasing stock sizes, increasing water temperature and spatially changing zooplankton densities in the Norwegian Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-441
Number of pages20
JournalMarine Biology Research
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Herring
  • mackerel
  • blue whiting
  • temperature
  • competition
  • interaction


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