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Nine decades of North Sea sole and plaice distribution
Engelhard, G.H.; Pinnegar, J.K.; Kell, L.T.; Rijnsdorp, A.D. (2011). Nine decades of North Sea sole and plaice distribution. ICES J. Mar. Sci./J. Cons. int. Explor. Mer 68(6): 1090-1104
In: ICES Journal of Marine Science. Academic Press: London. ISSN 1054-3139, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    20th century; Catch per unit effort; Climate; Fishing; Trawlers; Pleuronectes platessa Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Solea solea (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; ANE, North Sea [Marine Regions]
Author keywords
    climate, depth, fishing, latitude, longitude, plaice, sole

Authors  Top 
  • Engelhard, G.H.
  • Pinnegar, J.K.
  • Kell, L.T.
  • Rijnsdorp, A.D., more

Abstract
    Recent studies based mainly on research survey data suggest that within the North Sea, sole Solea solea and plaice Pleuronectes platessa have exhibited distribution shifts in recent decades on average southward for sole and northward to deeper waters for plaice. Various hypotheses may account for such shifts, including climate change effects and more intensive fishing in southern and shallower waters; but the relatively short time-span of datasets analysed so far (3 decades) has complicated the separation of these two effects. We have made use of a unique dataset of catch and effort data for British North Sea trawlers; these cover nine decades (spanning the period 1913–2007) and are spatially detailed by ICES rectangle (0.58 latitude by 18 longitude). We quantify, for the first time, long-term distribution changes of North Sea sole and plaice over a period approaching a century, and demonstrate that the distribution shift in plaice was attributable to climate change rather than to fishing, but that both climate and fishing played a role in the distribution shift of sole. The discussion also highlights the potential impact of additional factors, including eutrophication, prey availability, and habitat modification.

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