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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Mixed-stock analysis of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus): a tool for identifying management units and complex migration dynamics

Bekkevold, Dorte; Berg, Florian; Polte, Patrick; Bartolino, Valerio; Ojaveer, Henn; Mosegaard, Henrik; Farrell, Edward D.; Fedotova, Jelena; Hemmer-Hansen, Jakob; Huwer, Bastian; Trijoulet, Vanessa; Albertsen, Christoffer Moesgaard; Fuentes-Pardo, Angela P.; Groehsler, Tomas; Pettersson, Mats; Jansen, Teunis; Folkvord, Arild; Andersson, Leif


We developed and validated a mixed-stock analysis (MSA) method with 59 single-nucleotide polymorphisms selected from genome-wide data to assign individuals to populations in mixed-stock samples of Atlantic herring from the North and Baltic seas. We analysed 3734 herring from spawning locations and scientific catches of mixed feeding stocks to demonstrate a "one-fits-all" tool with unprecedented accuracy for monitoring spatio-temporal dynamics throughout a large geographical range with complex stock mixing. We re-analysed time-series data (2002-2021) and compared inferences about stock composition with estimates from morphological data. We show that contributions from the western Baltic spring-spawning stock complex, which is under management concern, have likely been overestimated. We also show that a genetically distinctive population of western Baltic autumn spawners, ascribed low fisheries importance, contributes non-negligible and potentially temporally increasing proportions to mixed-stock aggregations, calling for a re-evaluation of stock definitions. MSA data can be implemented in stock assessment and in a variety of applications, including marine ecosystem description, impact assessment of specific fleets, and stock-rebuilding plans.


clupeid; genetic stock identification; genomics; management units; migration; mixed-stock analysis; population structure; SNP

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2023, Volume: 80, number: 1, pages: 173-184

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG14 Life below water

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Fish and Aquacultural Science

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