Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 27 Issue 04

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Volume 27, No. 4
Pages 42 - 47


Resolving Hjort's Dilemma: How Is Recruitment Related to Spawning Stock Biomass in Marine Fish?

By Philippe M. Cury , Jean-Marc Fromentin, Sarah Figuet, and Sylvain Bonhommeau 
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Article Abstract

The relationship between spawning fish abundance and the number of offspring, the so-called stock-recruitment relationship, is crucial for fisheries management and conservation measures. Using the most comprehensive data set ever assembled, we quantify this relationship for 211 fish stocks worldwide, revealing a global pattern with a pervasive asymptotic shape that shows increasing recruitment reaching an upper limit for values around half to two-thirds of parental biomass. This corroborates previous theoretical and modeling results. However, parental biomass is a predictor for only 5% to 15% of the variance in recruitment, demonstrating the weak predictive power of the stock-recruitment relationship in marine fish populations. Thus, there is a need to move rapidly toward models that integrate environmental conditions and species interactions in fisheries stock assessment and management, as suggested by Johan Hjort 100 years ago.


Cury, P.M., J.-M. Fromentin, S. Figuet, and S. Bonhommeau. 2014. Resolving Hjort’s Dilemma: How Is recruitment related to spawning stock biomass in marine fish? Oceanography 27(4):42–47, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.85.

Supplementary Materials

» Supplementary Table 1 (204 KB pdf)
Time series used in the global analysis of stock-recruitment (SR) relationships. Each time series is one fish species at one location.The scientific name of the species, the geographic location of the population, the length of the time series, the type of data, and the source of the data are provided for (A) demersal, (B) small pelagic, and (C) large pelagic fish species.


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