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Flooded by herring: Downs herring fisheries in the southern North Sea during World War II
Lescrauwaet, A.-K.; De Raedemaecker, F.; Vincx, M.; Mees, J. (2013). Flooded by herring: Downs herring fisheries in the southern North Sea during World War II, in: Lescrauwaet, A.-K. Belgian fisheries: ten decades, seven seas, forty species: Historical time-series to reconstruct landings, catches, fleet and fishing areas from 1900. pp. 164-181
In: Lescrauwaet, A.-K. (2013). Belgian fisheries: ten decades, seven seas, forty species: Historical time-series to reconstruct landings, catches, fleet and fishing areas from 1900. PhD Thesis. Ghent University (UGent): Gent. xiii, 242 pp., more

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Keywords
    Herring fisheries; Historical account; ANE, North Sea [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    Downs herring, autumn-spawners, North Sea, Second World War

Authors  Top 
  • Lescrauwaet, A.-K., more
  • De Raedemaecker, F., more
  • Vincx, M., more
  • Mees, J., more

Abstract
    During the Second World War (1939-1945) herring fishing effort in the North Sea was greatly reduced. The traditional autumn herring fisheries by Belgian fishers on the Flemish banks around the spawning areas in the southern North Sea however, continued during WWII. Data presented here show a 10-fold increase in the Belgian ‘autumn spawning herring’ catches and a 5-fold increase in landings per unit of effort of Downs herring during WWII. It is argued that these increased catches are explained by a combination of factors including the sustained effect of a major increase in catch power, the effects of strong pre-WWII year classes and the effects of decreased fishing mortality during the 6-years cessation in fishing on the herring feeding grounds in the central North Sea and in the English Channel. The data and information presented here represent a period in which a gap exists in time-series of herring catches from the North Sea and in the stock assessment time series which currently go back to 1947. The results are also discussed in the context of the recovery of the autumn spawning Downs herring. The recovery of stock components and the spatial diversity in the spawning areas of the herring stock in the North Sea is a crucial aspect of fisheries management that aims to enhance stock resilience to changes in environmental conditions and direct effects of anthropogenic activities.

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