A joint stock assessment for the anchovy stock of the northern and central Adriatic Sea: comparison of two catch-at-age models


  • Piera Carpi CNR-ISMAR
  • Alberto Santojanni CNR-ISMAR
  • Fortunata Donato CNR-ISMAR
  • Sabrina Colella CNR-ISMAR
  • Vanja Čikeš Keč Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries
  • Barbara Zorica Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries
  • Iole Leonori CNR-ISMAR
  • Andrea De Felice CNR-ISMAR
  • Vjekoslav Tičina Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries
  • Tomaž Modic Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia
  • Enrico Arneri FAO-AdriaMed




Engraulis encrasicolus, Adriatic Sea, age-structured stock assessment, ICA, natural mortality, stock collapse


Anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus, L.) is one of the most important commercial species of the northern and central Adriatic Sea, as well as one of the most productive fisheries in the whole Mediterranean. In the Adriatic Sea the stock of anchovy is shared between Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. A joint stock assessment was carried out using catch data from all the fleets for the time interval 1975-2009. Analyses were performed using estimates of natural mortality at age obtained by means of two different methods and two population dynamics methods based on the analysis of catch-at-age data: Laurec-Sheperd virtual population analysis (VPA) and integrated catch-at-age (ICA), both tuned to acoustic estimates of abundance. Gislason’s estimates for natural mortality appeared to be more realistic and were thus preferred for short-lived species. The general trend of biomass and fishing mortality is similar for the two models, highlighting the major collapse of the stock in 1987. Nevertheless, ICA has enough flexibility to combine all the data available without adding too much complexity in comparison with a VPA approach and seems to perform better in terms of the spawning stock biomass/recruitment relationship and diagnostics (i.e. the retrospective pattern). For the stock status, the exploitation rate from ICA is higher than the suggested threshold of 0.4 proposed by Patterson for small pelagic species.


Download data is not yet available.


Abella A., Caddy J.F., Serena F. 1998. Estimation of the parameters of the Caddy reciprocal M-at-age model for the construction of natural mortality vectors. In: Lleonart J. (ed.). Dynamique des populations marines. Zaragoza: CIHEAM. p. 191-200. (Cahiers Options Méditerranéennes; n. 35). Deuxième Réunion du Groupe de Travail DYNPOP, 1996/10/02-05, Genova (Italy).

Alheit J., Mollmann C., Dutz J., et al. 2005. Synchronous ecological regime shifts in the central Baltic and the North Sea in the late 1980s. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 62: 1205-1215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.04.024

Alheit J., Pohlmann T., Casini M., et al. 2012. Climate variability drives anchovies and sardines into the North and Baltic Seas. Prog. Oceanogr. 96(1): 128-139. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2011.11.015

Antonakakis K., Giannoulaki M., Machias A., et al. 2011. Assessment of the sardine (Sardina pilchardus Walbaum, 1792) fishery in the eastern Mediterranean basin (North Aegean Sea). Medit. Mar. Sci. 12: 333-357. http://dx.doi.org/10.12681/mms.36

Azzali M., De Felice A., Luna M., et al. 2002. The state of the Adriatic Sea centered on the small pelagic fish populations. PSZNI Mar. Ecol. 23: 78-91. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0485.2002.tb00009.x

Beverton R.J., Holt S.J. 1956. A review of methods for estimating mortality rates in exploited fish populations, with special reference to sources of bias in catch sampling. Rap. Proc.-verb. Réun. Cons. Inter. Exp. Mer 140: 67-83.

Checkley D., Alheit J., Oozeki Y., et al. (eds) 2009. Climate change and small pelagic fish. Cambridge Univ. Press. 372 pp.

Cingolani N., Santojanni A. 2003. Manual of the Recorder. AdriaMed Training Course on Data Collection and Biological Sampling System on Small Pelagics. AdriaMed Occasional Papers. No.6 (Rev.1). GCP/RER/010/ITA/OP-06-Rev.1, Termoli, 2003: 53 pp.

Cingolani N., Giannetti G., Arneri E. 1996. Anchovy fisheries in the Adriatic Sea. Sci. Mar. 60: 269-277.

Cingolani N., Santojanni A., Arneri E., et al. 2008. Programma nazionale per la raccolta dei dati alieutici -ModuloH- Campionamento biologico delle catture: composizione per età e per lunghezza (risorse demersali e piccoli pelagici). Relazione finale CNR-ISMAR.

Coll M., Santojanni A., Palomera I., et al. 2007. An ecological model of the Northern and Central Adriatic Sea: analysis of ecosystem structure and fishing impacts. J. Mar. Syst. 67: 119-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2006.10.002

Coll M., Santojanni A., Palomera I., et al. 2009. Food-web changes in the Adriatic Sea over the last three decades. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 381: 17-37. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps07944

Darby C.D., Flatman S. 1994. Virtual Population Analysis: Version 3.1 (Windows/Dos) user guide. Info. Tech. Ser. No1. Lowestoft.

Daskalov G.M., Mamedov E.V. 2007. Integrated fisheries assessment and possible causes for the collapse of anchovy kilka in the Caspian Sea. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 64: 503-511. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsl047

De Oliveira J.A.A., Darby C.D., Roel B.A. 2010. A linked separable–ADAPT VPA assessment model for western horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), accounting for realized fecundity as a function of fish weight. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 67: 916-930. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsp290

FAO 2012. Fishery Statistical Collections: Global Production Statistics 1950-2010 (online query).

Fréon P., Cury P., Shannon L., et al. 2005. Sustainable exploitation of small pelagic fish stocks challenged by environmental and ecosystem changes: a review. Bull. Mar. Sci. 76: 385-462.

GFCM 2008. Report of the ninth meeting of the working group on small pelagics. Technical report General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, Sub-Committee on Stock Assessment (SCSA).

GFCM 2009.

GFCM 2013a. GFCM e-glossary: http://www.gfcm.org/gfcm/topic/17107/en.

GFCM 2013b.

Giannoulaki M., Iglesias M., Tugores M.P., et al. 2013. Characterizing the potential habitat of European anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus in the Mediterranean Sea, at different life stages. Fish Oceanogr. 22(2): 69-89. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fog.12005

Gislason H., Daan N., Rice J.C., et al. 2009. Size, growth, temperature and the natural mortality of marine fish. Fish Fish. 11: 149-158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-2979.2009.00350.x

Grbec B., Dulčić J., Morović M. 2002. Long-term changes in landings of small pelagic fish in the eastern Adriatic - Possible influence of climate oscillations over the Northern Hemisphere. Clim. Res. 20: 241-252. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/cr020241

Hutching J.A. 2001. Influence of population decline, fishing and spawner variability on the recovery of marine fishes. J. Fish. Biol. 59: 306-322. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2001.tb01392.x

Hutchings J.A., Reynolds J.D. 2004. Marine fish population collapses: consequences for recovery and extinction risk. BioScience. 54: 297-309. http://dx.doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0297:MFPCCF]2.0.CO;2

IREPA 2009. Osservatorio economico sulle strutture produttive della pesca marittima in Italia 2009. Istituto di ricerche economiche per la pesca e l'acquacoltura (IREPA). 180 pp.

Kimura D.K., Chikuni, S. 1987. Mixtures of empirical distributions: an iterative application of the Age-Length Key. Biometrics. 43: 23-35. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2531945

Klanjšček J., Legović T. 2007. Is anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus, L.) overfished in the Adriatic Sea? Ecol. Model. 201: 312-316. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.09.020

Laurec A., Shepherd J.G. 1983. On the analysis of catch and effort data. J. Cons. Int. Explor. Mer. 41: 81-84. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/41.1.81

Leonori I., De Felice A., Campanella F., et al. 2011. Assessment of small pelagic fish biomass in the western Adriatic Sea by means of acoustic methodology. In: Brugnoli E., Cavarretta G., Mazzola S., et al. (eds), Marine research at CNR Vol. DTA/06 Fishery and Sea Resources. Rome: pp. 2019-2029.

Leonori I., Tičina V., Felice A.D., et al. 2012. Comparison of two research vessels' properties in the acoustic surveys of small pelagic fish. Acta Adriat. 53: 389-398.

Magoulas A., Castilho R., Caetano S., et al. 2006. Mitochondrial DNA reveals a mosaic pattern of phylogeographical structure in Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 39: 734-746. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.016 PMid:16515866

Mannini P., Massa F. 2000. Support paper prepared for the first AdriaMed Coordination Committee. FAO-MiPAF Scientific Cooperation to Support Responsible Fisheries in the Adriatic Sea. GCP/RER/010/ITA/TD-01: 64 pp.

Marčeta B. 2001. Status of Slovene research and fishery on small pelagics. ADRIAMED Tech. Doc. 3: 24-29.

Morello E.B., Arneri E. 2009. Anchovy and sardine in the Adriatic Sea - An ecological review. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. 47: 209-256.

Needle C.L. 2000. The Ins and Outs of ICA. Technical Report 04/00 Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen. 80 pp.

Needle C.L. 2003. Course on Fish Stock Assessment Techniques. Workshop Course on Fish Stock Assessment Techniques. ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen. 182 pp.

Patterson K. 1992. Fisheries for small pelagic species: an empirical approach to management targets. Rev. Fish Biol. Fisher. 2: 321-338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00043521

Patterson K.R., Melvin G.D. 1996. Integrated Catch at Age Analysis - Version 1.2. Technical Report 58 The Scottish Office - Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department.

Pauly D. 1980. On the interrelationships between natural mortality, growth parameters, and mean environmental temperature in 175 fish stocks. J. Conseil. 39: 175-192. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/39.2.175

Payne M.R., Hatfield E.M.C., Dickey-Collas M., et al. 2009. Recruitment in a changing environment: the 2000s North Sea herring recruitment failure. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 66: 272-277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsn211

Pope J., Shepherd J.G. 1985. A comparison of the performance of various methods for tuning VPA's using effort data. J. Cons. Int. Explor. Mer. 42: 129-151. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/42.2.129

Quinn T.J., Deriso R.B. 1999. Quantive Fish Dynamics. Oxford Univ. Press, 542 pp.

Rampa R., Arneri E., Belardinelli A., et al. 2005. Length at first maturity of the Adriatic anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus L.). Document presented at the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), Sub Committee on Stock Assessment (SCSA). Rome.

Regner S. 1985. Ecology of planktonic stages of the anchovy, Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758), in the central Adriatic. Acta Adriat. 26: 5-113.

Regner S. 1996. Effects of environmental changes on early stages and reproduction of anchovy in the Adriatic Sea. Sci. Mar. 60: 167-177.

Ruiz J., Gonzalez-Quiros R., Prieto L., et al. 2009. A Bayesian model for anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus): the combined forcing of man and environment. Fish Oceanogr. 18: 62-76. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2419.2008.00497.x

Santojanni A. 2009. Comments on "Is anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus L.) overfished in the Adriatic Sea?" by Klanjšček and Legović [Ecol. Model. 201 (2007) 312-316]. Ecol. Model. 220: 430-433. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2008.05.003

Santojanni A., Arneri E., Barry C., et al. 2003. Trends of anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus L.) biomass in the northern and central Adriatic Sea. Sci. Mar. 67: 327-340.

Santojanni A., Cingolani N., Arneri E., et al. 2005. Stock assessment of sardine (Sardina pilchardus Walb.) in the Adriatic Sea, with an estimate of discards. Sci. Mar. 69: 603-617.

Santojanni A., Arneri E., Bernardini V., et al. 2006a. Effects of environmental variables on recruitment of anchovy in the Adriatic Sea. Clim. Res. 31: 181-193. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/cr031181

Santojanni A., Cingolani N., Arneri E., et al. 2006b. Use of an exploitation rate threshold in the management of anchovy and sardine stocks in the Adriatic Sea. Biol. Mar. Med. 13: 98-111.

Santojanni A., Leonori I., Carpi P., et al. 2011. Report of the working group on stock assessment of small pelagic species. Technical report Scientific Advisory Committee, Sub-Committee on Stock Assessment, Chania, Greece.

SARDONE 2010. Improving assessment and management of small pelagic species in the Mediterranean. Deliverable D18: Final report of WP5, Improved Stock assessments for sardine and anchovy in the Mediterranean Sea (CNR).

Shepherd J. G. 1999. Extended survivors analysis: an improved method for the analysis of catch-at-age data and abundance indices. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 56: 584-591. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jmsc.1999.0498

Sinovčić G., Zorica B. 2006. Reproductive cycle and minimal length at sexual maturity of Engraulis encrasicolus (L.) in the Zrmaja River estuary (Adriatic Sea, Croatia). Estuar. Coast Shelf Sci. 69: 439-448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2006.04.003

Tičina V. 2003. Pelagic resources of the Adriatic Sea. Croatian International Relations Review 9(32): 33-35.

Tičina V., Katavić I., Dadić V., et al. 2006. Acoustic estimates of small pelagic fish stocks in the eastern part of Adriatic Sea. Proceedings of GFCM-SAC WG on Identification of Reference Points for the management of fishery resources, Roma, 20-21 April 2004. Biol. Mar. Med. 13: 124-136.

Tudela S. 1999. Morphological variability in a Mediterranean, genetically homogeneous population of the European anchovy, Engraulis encrasicolus. Fish. Res. 42: 229-243. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0165-7836(99)00052-1

Watanabe Y., Zenitani H., Kimura R. 1995. Population decline of the Japanese sardine Sardinops melanostictus owing to recruitment failures. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 52: 1609-1616. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/f95-154

Zorica B., Vilibić I., Čikeš Keč V., et al. 2013. Environmental conditions conducive to anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) spawning in the Adriatic Sea. Fish. Oceanogr. 22: 32-40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fog.12002



How to Cite

Carpi P, Santojanni A, Donato F, Colella S, Čikeš Keč V, Zorica B, Leonori I, De Felice A, Tičina V, Modic T, Arneri E. A joint stock assessment for the anchovy stock of the northern and central Adriatic Sea: comparison of two catch-at-age models. scimar [Internet]. 2015Mar.30 [cited 2023Sep.29];79(1):57-70. Available from: https://scientiamarina.revistas.csic.es/index.php/scientiamarina/article/view/1568




Most read articles by the same author(s)