Working Group on Small Pelagic Fish, their Ecosystems and Climate Impact


The ICES Working Group of Small Pelagic Fishes, their Ecosystems and Climate Impact (WGSPEC) encourages and gathers cross-disciplinary experts to look at the linkages between small pelagic fish and climate impacts.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​WGSPEC studies mechanisms that link the variability of small pelagic fish (i.e. anchovy, sardine, sardinella, sprat and herring) populations, in different ocean basins under large-scale climatic forcing. Considering its ecosystem context, WGSPEC gathers together scientists representing relevant disciplines such as physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, fisheries, plankton. WGSPEC members represent different northern and southern European countries and are actively involved either in the ICES or in the Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM).

WGSPEC met the first time in 2010, contributing to organize the workshop on “Anchovy, Sardine and Climate variability in the North Sea and Adjacent Areas”. In 2011, WGSPEC worked by correspondence, but organized two very successful workshops: (i) ICES/PICES Workshop on Reaction of Northern Hemisphere Ecosystems: A comparison (WKNORCLIM) and (ii) ICES Workshop on Basin-wide Impact of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, AMO (WKAMO).

In 2012, WGSPEC had its second meeting in Fuengirola, Spain, with 26 participants from 10 countries, including 13 CIESM scientists. The focus of the discussion was a comparison of climatically induced changes in distribution and abundance of small pelagic populations from off NW Africa in the south to the Barents Sea in the north, including the Mediterranean.

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A school of herring

​© Darryl Brooks - Fotolia.com

Publications related to WGSPEC activity:

Petitgas P, Alheit J, Peck MA, Raab K, Irigoien X, Huret M, van der Kooij J, Pohlmann T, Wagner C, Zarraonaindia I, Dickey-Collas M. 2012; Anchovy population expansion in the North Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series 444: 1-13

Alheit, J., Pohlmann, T., Casini, M., Greve, W., Hinrichs, R. , Mathis, M., O’Driscoll, K., Vorberg, R., Wagner, C. 2012.; Climate variability drives anchovies and sardines into North and Baltic Seas. Progress in Oceanography 96: 128-139


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