Sardine catch. (Photo: IBDES-IEO)
Sardine ‘suitable habitat’ identified in the Mediterranean
Friday, April 13, 2012, 16:40 (GMT + 9)
A team of scientists from oceanographic centres in the Balearic Islands and in Málaga of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) studied the environmental conditions that characterize the habitat of the sardine (Sardina pilchardus) in the Mediterranean Sea for several seasons.
Published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, the study was carried out with the collaboration of experts from other research centres in Europe.
During the investigation, scientists developed a model to determine the most favourable areas for the life of sardines in the Mediterranean.
The study includes information from acoustic prospecting studies between 2003 and 2008 in the northern Aegean Sea (Eastern Mediterranean), the Adriatic Sea and the Channel of Sicily (Central Mediterranean) and in Spanish waters of the Western Mediterranean, along with other satellite data on environmental parameters (sea surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration, salinity, etc.) and bathymetry, in order to model the potential habitat for sardines in summer, autumn and winter in the whole Mediterranean, reads the press release from IEO.
The group of experts prepared maps of presence probability of the pelagic resource in the Mediterranean Sea and studied its persistence in time and space.
"The areas where the conditions are favourable for sardines persistently in all seasons studied are the ideal places to implement management systems so as to protect the species, for example, by determining marine protected areas," explains the IEO.
The sardine is responsible for the energy transfer from the lowest links (plankton) to the top ones of the marine ecosystems.
Alongside the European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), the sardine represents a large proportion of the catches of small pelagic specimens in the Mediterranean.
According to Pilar Tugores, lead author of the work, "in the Spanish Mediterranean sardine populations have been in decline since the 90's. Thus, determining marine protected areas can be a crucial factor towards the maintenance of the species and the sustainability of the fisheries that depend on it."
The study conducted by the IEO is part of the European project MariFish, whose main objective is to promote greater coordination among the agencies that are responsible for the fisheries research funding, research centres and management institutions.
By Analia Murias