The North Atlantic subpolar gyre regulates the spawning distribution of blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou)

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The spawning stock of blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), an economically important pelagic gadoid in the North Atlantic Ocean, increased threefold after 1995. The reproductive success of the stock is largely determined during the very early stages of life, but little is known about the spawning dynamics of this species. Here we show that the spawning distribution of blue whiting is variable, regulated by the hydrography west of the British Isles. When the North Atlantic subpolar gyre is strong and spreads its cold, fresh water masses east over Rockall Plateau, the spawning is constrained along the European continental slope and in a southerly position near Porcupine Bank. When the gyre is weak and conditions are relatively saline and warm, the spawning distribution moves northwards along the slope and especially westwards covering Rockall Plateau. The apparent link between the spawning distribution and the subpolar gyre is the first step towards understanding the reproduction variability, which currently is the main challenge for appropriate management of the blue whiting stock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-770
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Blue whiting
  • Micromesistius poutassou
  • North Atlantic Ocean


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