Fisheries productivity in the northeastern Pacific Ocean over the past 2,200 years

Nature. 2002 Apr 18;416(6882):729-33. doi: 10.1038/416729a.


Historical catch records suggest that climatic variability has had basin-wide effects on the northern Pacific and its fish populations, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies. However, these records are too short to define the nature and frequency of patterns. We reconstructed approximately 2,200-year records of sockeye salmon abundance from sediment cores obtained from salmon nursery lakes on Kodiak island, Alaska. Large shifts in abundance, which far exceed the decadal-scale variability recorded during the past 300 years, occurred over the past two millennia. A marked, multi-centennial decline in Alaskan sockeye salmon was apparent from approximately 100 BC to AD 800, but salmon were consistently more abundant from AD 1200 to 1900. Over the past two millennia, the abundances of Pacific sardine and Northern anchovy off the California coast, and of Alaskan salmon, show several synchronous patterns of variability. But sardines and anchovies vary out of phase with Alaskan salmon over low frequency, which differs from the pattern detected in historical records. The coherent patterns observed across large regions demonstrate the strong role of climatic forcing in regulating northeastern Pacific fish stocks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alaska
  • Animals
  • California
  • Ecosystem
  • Fisheries*
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Fresh Water
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Population Density
  • Salmon / physiology
  • Time Factors