Fish catch is related to the fluctuations of a western boundary current

Lie Yauw Oey, Jia Wang, M. A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In eastern boundary upwelling ecosystems, substantial variance of biological productivity (;50%) can often be related to physical forcing such as winds and ocean temperatures. Robust biophysical connections are less clear-cut in western boundary currents. Here the authors show that interannual variation of fish catch along the western boundary current of the North Pacific, the Kuroshio, significantly correlates (r 5 0.67; p , 0.001) with the current's off-slope (more fish) and on-slope (less fish) sideways shifts in the southern East China Sea. Remotely, transport fluctuations and fish catch are related to the oscillation of a wind stress-curl dipole in the tropical-subtropical gyre of the western North Pacific. Locally, the current's sideways fluctuations are driven by transport fluctuations through a feedback process between along-isobath pressure gradients and vertical motions: upwelling (downwelling) during the off-slope (on slope) shift, which in turn significantly enhances (depresses) the chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration in winter and early spring. The authors hypothesize that changes in the phytoplankton biomass as indicated by the Chl-a lead to changes in copepodites, the main food source of the fish larvae, and hence also to the observed variation in fish catch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-721
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Boundary currents
  • Mesoscale processes
  • North Pacific Ocean
  • Ocean
  • Upwelling/downwelling


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