The use of CPR data in fisheries research

A.A.H.M. Corten, J.A. Lindley

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    The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey was initiated partly to contribute to our understanding of the variability of fish stocks and as a potential method for predicting fish distributions from the abundance and composition of the plankton. The latter objective has been superseded by technological developments in fish detection, but the former has been the subject of continuing, and in recent years expanding use of the CPR data. Examples are presented of application of the data to studies on North Sea herring, cod, mackerel, blue whiting and redfish as well as more general plankton studies relevant to fisheries research. Variations in the migration patterns of herring as well as recruitment have been related to abundances and species composition of the plankton in the CPR survey. Extensive use has been made of the CPR data in relation to cod, particularly in the development and testing of the `match-mismatch' hypothesis. Advection of sufficient numbers of Calanus from the core oceanic areas of its distribution into the areas where the cod stocks occur may partly determine the success of those stocks. The analysis of the distribution and abundances of mackerel larvae in the CPR survey have shown contrasting variations between the North Sea and Celtic Sea. The expansion of the horse mackerel fishery in the north-eastern North Sea since 1987 has been related to physical events and a `regime shift' in the plankton, described from CPR data. The oceanic spawning areas of the blue whiting and redfish were highlighted by the expansion of the CPR survey into the north-eastern and north-western Atlantic respectively. These results helped to focus the attention of fisheries scientists on stocks that have subsequently become the targets for commercial exploitation. The results of the CPR survey, particularly those on Calanus finmarchicus, the phytoplankton standing stock as measured by the CPR colour index, the overall patterns of trends in plankton abundance and distributions of indicator species have been used by fisheries scientists to interpret variations in fish stocks. Generally the CPR data can be used to determine whether changes in the distributions and growth rates of fish have resulted from changes in planktonic food, changes in strength of ocean currents and distribution of water masses and to identify trends in larval abundances. With the tightening regulation of fisheries to reduce overfishing, global climate change and changing anthropogenic inputs into the sea, the unique source of information on unexploited populations in the long-term time series of the CPR survey will be of increasing value to fisheries scientists in the study of natural variability
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-300
    JournalProgress in Oceanography
    Issue number2-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • eastern north-atlantic
    • scomber-scombrus l
    • long-term trends
    • calanoid copepods
    • c-helgolandicus
    • sea
    • abundance
    • plankton
    • cod
    • zooplankton


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