Forecast spawning habitat for blue whiting in March 2018. The colour scale corresponds to the probability of observing blue whiting larvae in a single haul performed by the Continuous Plankton Recorder: probabilities > 0.4 can be considered as the core spawning habitat. The isohalines defining the suitable salinity window (35.3 - 35.5) at spawning depth are marked with a blue contour line. The 500m and 2000m isobaths are added for reference.

Blue Whiting joins the Fishforecast family

Wednesday 17 Jan 18
As the first full forecast product with regular planned updates, the addition of predictions of blue whiting spawning habitat several months into the future represents an important step forward for the Fishforecast suite of products.

Blue whiting is a small fish species found the North Atlantic that is commonly used for fish meal and fish oil production. The species feeds in the Norwegian Seas during summer but makes annual migrations southward to the area west of Great Britain and Ireland to spawn during the spring, before returning northward to feed again. The spatial extent of the spawning area has been seen to vary greatly between years, and shifts between a highly compacted distribution, compressed against the continental shelf, and an expanded distribution. This variability presents challenges for the scientists that monitor the stock, who need to ensure that they have adequate resources and planning to ensure that all fish are counted.

Recent work performed at DTU Aqua has linked this variability in distribution to ocean salinity in the region. Fishforecasts  has now taken the next step and is producing forecasts of the spawning distribution based on this knowledge. The forecasts will be updated regularly up to the main spawning season in March.

The forecast for March 2018 suggests a highly compacted distribution (see figure) and is expected to be amongst the most compact observed to date. This unusual situation arises due to the equally unusual salinity distribution in this region.

More details about this forecast can be found on the Fishforecasts website for the specific product:
30 JANUARY 2023