[OPEN ACCESS] Review of population dynamics and management of small pelagic fishes around the Japanese Archipelago

Fish Sci (2019) 85:611–639


Akihiko Yatsu


Population dynamics of small pelagic fishes (SPF) and their management in Japan were reviewed for Japanese sardine Sardinops melanostictus, Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus, chub mackerel Scomber japonicus, and Pacific saury Cololabis saira. The catch and biomass of SPF generally showed decadal-scale variability with prominent species replacements since the 1900s. The causes of species replacements were generally associated with climatic/oceanic variability, particularly “regime shifts,” of which the 1988/89 regime shift was the most influential since the 1970s. Variability in the early survival rate is a key factor for population fluctuations, and the proposed hypothetical mechanisms of recruitment variability are summarized herein. Although overfishing during the 1990s and early 2000s prevented the recovery of Pacific stocks of sardine and chub mackerel, they have been recovering since the mid-2000s owing to strong year classes and reduced exploitation rates. The fundamental cause of overfishing was derived from a mismatch between investments in larger purse seine fleets during the 1980s and poor ocean productivity since the 1988/89 regime shift, when dominant SPF began to shift from sardine to anchovy. Recommendations for fisheries management of SPF around the Japanese Archipelago are proposed, considering climate change and naturally and drastically changing SPF populations.

Published with support by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant no. JP 262003.


Japanese sardine / Japanese anchovy / Chub mackerel / Pacific saury / Population dynamics / Regime shift / Species replacements / Fisheries management

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