Spawning of fishes takes place across a wide area of the North Sea. However, more intense spawning is seen in restricted areas, indicating that such areas present favorable conditions. To update information on fish spawning in the North Sea and analyze potential linkages to hydrographic characteristics, an internationally coordinated survey was conducted in the winter/spring of 2004. Oblique hauls for fish eggs and larvae and vertical profiles of temperature and salinity were carried out at 393 stations across the entire North Sea. The hydrography was strongly influenced by the interfacing of water masses of different salinity, and frontal zones were seen along all coastal areas and off the Dogger and Fisher Banks. Total abundances of eggs and larvae, including fish species such as cod, haddock, plaice, long rough dab and sandeel, peaked in the vicinity of the frontal areas. Hence our findings indicate that the main spawning locations of fish are linked to recurrent hydrographic features such as salinity fronts. Such a linkage may provide survival advantages, as the fronts present favorable feeding conditions, and the related physical processes may confine egg and larval dispersal and transport them towards suitable nursery habitats.
- COD GADUS-MORHUA