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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Spatially explicit stock assessment uncovers sequential depletion of northern shrimp stock components in the North Sea

Cardinale, M.; Zimmermann, F.; Sovik, G.; Griffiths, C. A.; Bergenius Nord, M.; Winker, H.


Space is a critical component of fisheries management. Despite this, very few of the world's fish and shellfish stocks are currently assessed using methods that are spatially structured. In the Northeast Atlantic, northern shrimp in the North Sea and Skagerrak, is currently assessed using a spatially structured assessment model. This metapopulation model includes two spatial units (the Norwegian Deep and the Skagerrak), however, in the recent past, the fishery on northern shrimp in the North Sea also occurred in a third neighbouring fishing area, the Fladen Ground. Here, we have reconstructed the dynamics of northern shrimp in the Fladen Ground using historic landings, a standardized commercial index of abundance and fragmented survey data and integrated this third spatial unit into the assessment model of the stock. In doing so, we find evidence of sequential spatial depletion, whereby high rates of fishing mortality have successively eroded stock components in a west to east pattern of overexploitation and produced cryptic collapses. This finding is the first documented case of sequential spatial depletion in the Northeast Atlantic, a phenomenon that could be common and largely overlooked by stock assessment methods that are inherently non-spatial.


cryptic collapses; Northeast Atlantic; Northern shrimp; spatially structured stock assessment

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2023, Volume: 80, number: 7, pages: 1868-1880