Mind the gaps: a state-space model for analysing the dynamics of North Sea herring spawning components

Mark Payne

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The North Sea autumn-spawning herring (Clupea harengus) stock consists of a set of different spawning components. The dynamics of the entire stock have been well characterized, but although time-series of larval abundance indices are available for the individual components, study of the dynamics at the component level has historically been hampered by missing observations and high sampling noise. A simple state-space statistical model is developed that is robust to these problems, gives a good fit to the data, and proves capable of both handling and predicting missing observations well. Furthermore, the sum of the fitted abundance indices across all components proves an excellent proxy for the biomass of the total stock, even though the model utilizes information at the individual-component level. The Orkney–Shetland component appears to have recovered faster from historic depletion events than the other components, whereas the Downs component has been the slowest. These differences give rise to changes in stock composition, which are shown to vary widely within a relatively short time. The modelling framework provides a valuable tool for studying and monitoring the dynamics of the individual components of the North Sea herring stock.
Original languageEnglish
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1939-1947
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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