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Report from Dr. Hjálmar Hátún

During the week February 25 to March 1, Dr. Hjálmar Hátún from the Faroe Marine Research Institute (FAMRI) attended the ICES Working Group on Small Pelagic Fishes, their Ecosystems and Climate Impact (WGSPEC) meeting at Fuengirola, Spain.

WGSPEC contributes to Chapter 4.1 of the ICES Science Plan “Understanding Ecosystem Functioning” under the topic of “Climate Change Processes and Prediction of Impacts”. It is particularly dedicated

(i) to study the response of populations and communities to changes in environmental variables, including the changes in distributional patterns in relation to climate variability over the last 150 years and
(ii) to provide information needed to model ecosystem responses to selected physical oceanographic scenarios.

The creation of WGSPEC is partly a reaction to the cessation of the GLOBEC-SPACC initiative and consequently, WGSPEC seeks connection to regions and scientists outside of the ICES area.

The WGSPEC terms of reference are:

a) Specific analysis of climate impact of regime shift around the mid-1990s on ecosystems of NE Atlantic, incl. Mediterranean and NW African upwelling, with a focus on AMO/AMV and North Atlantic gyres
- Understand respective physical mechanisms
- Study reactions of plankton and small pelagic fish
- Compare with similar events in 1st half of 20th century
b) Study mechanisms that link variability of small pelagic fish populations in different ocean basins with large-scale climatic forcing
c) Global comparison of climate variability impact on small pelagics
d) Specific analysis of climate variability impact on non-clupeid small pelagics (such as mackerel)
This was the third WGSPEC meeting and the focus was mostly on research question a), as mentioned above.

The first two days were dedicated to giving presentations. Hjálmar presented a talk called ‘Large-scale shifts in the North Atlantic bio-geography forced by the subpolar gyre’.

The next three days were used for discussion on the mid-1990s climate and ecosystem changes in the Canarian upwelling system, the Mediterranean Sea, the Bay of Biscay and in the NNE Atlantic. Some data analysis was also performed at the meeting.