Trends in abundance of fish species in the North Sea | Emodnet Biology

Trends in abundance of fish species in the North Sea

This product shows the trends in abundance of fish species (cod, plaice, herring, anchovy, sandeel, mackerel, sprot) in the North Sea.

Data series

The ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey (IBTS) in the North Sea has been undertaken since about 1970. The aims of this survey is the long-term monitoring of demersal fish to provide data on commercial species for stock assessments and for examining changes in fish distribution and abundance. For this data product gridded abundance map of different commercial North Sea fish species monitored within the IBTS were created (cod, plaice, herring, anchovy, sandeel, mackerel, sprot). This spatail interpolation was developed with the DIVA (Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis) algoritm, the scale represents log-transformed Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE). The dataset used for the calcualtion of these products is served from the ICES-DATRAS database and available via EMODnet Biology at:

Data product

Case 1: Cod gridded abundances (Gadus morhua)

Data from the IBTS shows clearly the dramatic stock depletion of the last decades in the North Sea.


Case 2: Plaice gridded abundances (Pleuronectes platessa)

Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a change in the relative distribution of Pleuronectes platessa in the North Sea. The abundances have increased in deeper, more offshore areas, while coastal abundances have been stagnant or declining. These trends reported in literature can be clearly observed in the data products.


Case III: Anchovy gridded abundances (Engraulis encrasicolus)

The map shows how this species became more abundant the last decades in the North Sea. This confirms reported trends indicating that abundance and spatial occupation of European anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus have increased in the North Sea since the mid-1990s.

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