Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Expert Consultation on Small Pelagics: stock identification and oceanographic processes influencing their abundance and distribution
(1-3 October 2003, Salammbô -  Tunisia) 

Objectives of the Expert Consultation


The last available FAO statistics show a total capture of nearly 70,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish for 2001 in the Project Area (GFCM capture productions of sardines, sardinellas, anchovies, mackerels, horse mackerels corresponding to the Geographical Sub-Areas covered by MedSudMed Project). Small pelagic fish represent an intermediate trophic level that can be critical, for instance in highly productive ecosystems such as upwellings, where they are supposed to exert a control both on upper and lower trophic levels.

Relations with oceanographic parameters have been explored and there is considerable evidence that environmental variability plays an important role in controlling abundance and distribution of marine populations. However, despite existing models and theories, and despite important fisheries existing in the area, little or no information is available on small pelagic populations’ ecology and stock identification in the Central Mediterranean. There is a strong need to identify and describe in detail processes responsible for enrichment of the water column (circulation, upwellings, frontal zones, …), describe possible migration patterns in the area and their triggers, identify and monitor factors conditioning spawning patterns, recruitment success and development of early life stages.

In line with the GFCM-SAC recommendation to identify more shared stocks in the Mediterranean, synthesis of the existing knowledge and data in the framework of a MedSudMed component conducted at a regional level should greatly contribute to enhance knowledge on the stock identification and ecology of small pelagic fish in the Project Area. Localizing the feeding, reproduction, and concentration zones would allow identifying the oceanographic patterns responsible for the spatial distribution and the abundance of small pelagic fish.

Objectives of the meeting


The EC will explore facets dealing with small pelagic fish stocks identification, oceanographic processes influencing their abundance and distribution in the Project area. Contributions should provide elements for the broad synthetic view of the knowledge and the activities in this field. On going studies, used methods and summary of present knowledge should be presented, in order to analyze the effect of biotic and abiotic environment on small pelagic fish.

Moreover, comparative studies can possibly be conducted; therefore, the presentation of all available information is a must for future activities (research, training, or management). This would enable listing the gaps in the knowledge and methodologies, and draw-up consequent working and training programs agreed upon by all partners.

The expected outputs include:

Synthesis of the knowledge and existing data on small pelagic fish in the MedSudMed study area.

Discussion and identification of a list of species that have particular economic or ecological importance and that will be considered as priority in futures studies to be conducted (S. pilchardus, E. encrasicolus, T. trachurus, T. mediterraneus, S. japonicus, S. scomber). This list is to be proposed according to the GFCM priority list, but also according to national needs and activities and on-going studies.

Identification of gaps in information on spatial distribution of the stocks, migration patterns of adults, passive transport of eggs and larvae, factors affecting and conditioning recruitment success.

Methodology to fill the gaps: feasibility studies, and/or activities to be conducted to improve knowledge on relationships between biotic and abiotic environment and distribution, abundance and life cycle of small pelagic fish.

Identification of pilot study cases.

Overview of the regional and national expertise – Identification of training needs and possibilities.

Creation of a regional network of multidisciplinary experts, to be involved in the MedSudMed activities related to this Expert Consultation.



The Expert Consultation will consist of regional experts. The participants will have broad discipline background; it is of outmost importance that persons with different skills be brought to share their knowledge and experience.

Discussions will be conducted by Scientific Coordinator of the Project, Project staff and experts participating in the Expert Consultation. A team leader will be nominated, to chair the meeting, help to the preparation of the final document, and coordinate the activities that will have been agreed upon.

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