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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: January 2010

15 - Synthesis and perspective

Summary

Summary

The Small Pelagic Fish and Climate Change (SPACC) program was created to facilitate research on the dynamics of populations of small pelagic fish, including anchovy and sardine. These populations exhibit large variations in size, extent, and production on the scale of decades. At times, anchovy and sardine alternate in abundance. Collectively, small pelagic fish often occupy a central role in the food web they occur in, often described as a wasp-waist ecosystem. Humans are an integral part of those ecosystems. Variability of populations of small pelagic fish is believed to be due primarily to variations in climate and fishing, but the mechanisms of these relations remain unknown in most cases. It is also uncertain whether these ecosystems alternate between states, e.g. regimes, and whether inherent variability may limit our ability to predict their future states. The fisheries for populations of small pelagic fish are increasingly global in nature. While the global catch of small pelagic fish constitutes approximately one quarter of the world fish catch and has been relatively constant during the past several decades, the catch of individual taxa and stocks varies much more. The management of these fisheries will be challenged by increasing demand for human consumption and mariculture in light of their finite and variable production, importance within the ecosystem, and unprecedented climate change, and will depend on both science and governance. We recommend continued, global research on climate change effects on small pelagic fish, and its periodic assessment for use by decision makers.