Coastal Pelagic Species Life History

Coastal Pelagic Species Life History Staff

Spawning Female Squid Close up ResizedThe Coastal Pelagic Species Life History Program aims to acquire a better understanding of the life history strategies of the coastal pelagic species (CPS) and to quantify their vital rates as related to oceanographic and fishery processes in the California Current Ecosystem. The CPS, including Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel, northern anchovy and market squid, are managed or monitored by the Pacific Fishery Management Council under the CPS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer . Current projects support an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management and span a broad range of research, including field surveys, laboratory analyses and experiments, and statistical modeling.

As mandated by the CPS FMP, the CPS populations are assessed annually or periodically depending on their management status. Pacific sardine is assessed yearly, during which we develop a spawning stock biomass index based on biological data collected from the Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM), ichthyoplankton and adult trawl surveys. This index is integrated with other fishery-dependent and -independent data to assess the northern Pacific sardine stock. The Pacific mackerel stock is assessed every four years, with catch-only-projections every alternating four years. We periodically monitor the spawning stock biomass of market squid fishery for long term changes, using an egg escapement model developed from fishery data and biological analyses in the laboratory. Both anchovy and jack mackerel are monitored species that are not currently assessed, although sampling surveys are being conducted to develop time series data on the life history parameters of these species.

Growth rates, maturation-at-age and at-size, and spawning frequencies may vary with environmental conditions and population size, and thus are critical to predict and model changes in the abundance of the CPS. We evaluate these vital rates using various methods, including laboratory experiments, histological analysis and otolith ageing of samples collected from the DEPM survey. Most of our current efforts are devoted to Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel and market squid.

Collaborative research:
Because most CPS are trans-boundary populations, collaborative research efforts between the U.S.A., Mexico, and Canada have been vital to fully understand the dynamics and life histories of these species. Cooperative efforts with Mexico have been ongoing for over 40 years through the CalCOFI program, and with both Mexico and Canada via the Trinational Sardine Forum since 2000. Most recently in 2011, the Small Pelagic Ageing Research Cooperative (SPARC) was established to improve ageing methods of the CPS by facilitating scientific exchange between Mexico, Canada and U.S.A. ageing laboratories.
At the regional scale, we also conduct collaborative research with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife California (CDFW) The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer and the California Wetfish Producer Association (CWPA) The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries Disclaimer . Current research projects focus on improving our understanding of the effects of environmental factors on market squid paralarval and juvenile abundance and on recruitment to the fishery off California.

Research activities 

Recent publications

Final Final PM 2A D61  Final Final PS Dry OTC  Final Final PS Wet