Fisheries oceanography is largely an applied disciplinewith a major goal of improving fisheries management and marine conservation. Johan Hjort’s critical period hypothesis, and its decedents, remain a dominant theme and focuses on year-class success as mediated by prey avail ability and feeding. Bottom-up forcing, a related hypothesis, focuses on the sequential transfer of energy through the pelagic foodweb from primary productivity to fishery productivity. Another approach assumes that trophic interactions of adults determine abundance. Fisheries assessment and management, however, is based on the hypothesis that fishery abundance is determined by time-varying fishing and year class success related to spawning-stock biomass. These approaches, their basic hypotheses, and underlying processes and mechanisms suggest very different dynamics for fishery populations. Other hypotheses challenge these traditional views: predation of early life stages, parental condition, shifting migration pathways, and physiological limits. Support for these other hypotheses is reviewed and the research needs are described to apply these hypotheses to fisheries assessment and management. Some of these hypotheses were iden tified by Hjort (e.g. parental condition hypothesis) and others are relative new (e.g. early life stage predation hypothesis). Moving into the future, we should focus on Hjort’s approach: multi-hypothesis, integrative, and interdisciplinary. A range of hypotheses should be pursued with an emphasis on comparing and linking multiple hypotheses. The results then must be incorporated into fishery assessments and man agement decisions to support the long-term sustainability of exploited species and the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
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