Herring Collapse linked with the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
An important paper on the Prince William Sound herring collapse was published this month in a prestigious international journal, the ICES Journal of Marine Science. While scientists have generally believed that the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill did not cause the collapse of the PWS herring population - because of a four-year gap between the spill and the 1992 collapse, this paper concludes that the decline occurred over a five-year period, rather than the single-year collapse previously reported.
"Herring and the Exxon Valdez oil spill: an investigation into historical data conflicts" is authored by senior Prince William Sound Science Center (PWSSC) scientist, Richard Thorne, and former PWSSC president, Gary Thomas. The authors examined historical patterns of herring spawn, anomalies in historical fisheries model predictions, changes in predation behavior of Steller sea lions, and the PWSSC's decadal database of acoustic measurements of herring biomass. They also show that the behavior of adult herring makes them especially vulnerable to damage from oil spills and conclude the evidence supports the thesis that the start of the PWS herring decline was coincident with the Exxon Valdez oil spill...