Science symposia

ICES/PICES Symposium on Drivers of dynamics of small pelagic fish resources

6-11 March 2017, Victoria, BC, Canada

Jürgen Alheit (ICES) and Yoshioki Oozeki (PICES)

​​Symposium's goal:

To revitalize international cooperation on investigations of small pelagic fishes, and to develop a framework to address unresolved questions such as the impact of climate and fishing pressure on the resilience of small pelagic populations.

The symposium will build on the results of 'the Effects of Climate Change on the World's Oceans' symposium in Santos, Brazil (2015) as well as regional meetings on forage fish in Nantes (2012) and the American Fisheries Society (AFS) in Quebec (2014).


  • Environmental control of productivity and distribution
  • Early life history and recruitment processes
  • Trophodynamic role between plankton and top predators in different ecosystems
  • Mechanisms of teleconnection and synchrony
  • Management and economics

Other themes may arise as the conveners and SSC are identified and begin discussions on the symposium. Because of the importance of environmental and anthropogenic drivers on small pelagic resources, the participation of experts in physical oceanography, climate, and socio-economics is essential.


Populations of small pelagic neritic fish such as sardine, anchovy, and mackerel make up about 25% of the total annual yield of capture fisheries as well as critically support many coastal communities around the world, particularly in developing countries. Small pelagic population sizes exhibit extreme fluctuations in abundance and geographic distribution due to the impact of environmental and anthropogenic influences. In spite of many internationally coordinated research efforts, we still do not have sufficient knowledge about the drivers of small pelagic fish recruitment and particularly the interactive effects of environmental and anthropogenic factors.

A successful Fisheries and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) symposium in 1983 inspired many subsequent research efforts on small pelagic fishes over the next three decades. One memorable presentation at that conference prompted many of those attending to confront the phenomenon of small pelagic fish numbers varying synchronously in many unconnected neritic regions of the ocean for the first time. This is an issue that we are still attempting to understand, as the distances between the small pelagic stocks are great, atmospheric and ocean connections weak and unclear, and mechanisms unresolved.

There has been no global symposium on small pelagic fishes since 1983, and the global exchange of information has declined since the end of the GLOBEC project in 2008.

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ICES/PICES Symposium on Drivers of dynamics of small pelagic fish resources

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