Otolith chemoscape analysis in whiting links fishing grounds to nursery areas

Neil M. Burns*, Charlotte R. Hopkins, David M. Bailey, Peter J. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding life stage connectivity is essential to define appropriate spatial scales for fisheries management and develop effective strategies to reduce undersized bycatch. Despite many studies of population structure and connectivity in marine fish, most management units do not reflect biological populations and protection is rarely given to juvenile sources of the fished stock. Direct, quantitative estimates that link specific fishing grounds to the nursery areas, which produced the caught fish are essential to meet these objectives. Here we develop a continuous-surface otolith microchemistry approach to geolocate whiting (Merlangius merlangus) and infer life stage connectivity across the west coast of the UK. We show substantial connectivity across existing stock boundaries and identify the importance of the Firth of Clyde nursery area. This approach offers fisheries managers the ability to account for the benefits of improved fishing yields derived from spatial protection while minimising revenue loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number690
JournalCommunications Biology
Early online date19 Nov 2020
Publication statusFirst published - 19 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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