Marine ecologists are working with fisheries across Europe to further understanding of natural and human influences on decreasing fish populations.
Work has begun in the North East Atlantic, Baltic, North East Atlantic and Iberian Sea area to increase the level of scientific information available to fisheries. This will allow the fishing industry to produce new strategies for providing fish stocks for human consumption. Professor Chris Frid from the University’s School of Biological Sciences has received funding of one million Euros from the EU to carry out the three-year project, in collaboration with research institutes in Portugal, Iceland, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.
Professor Frid said: “In recent years fish stocks have reached unprecedented low levels. While the fishing industry has been keen to identify pollution and global warming as the causes, it is also clear that fishing has removed large numbers of fish and altered the way the ecosystem works. Everybody would like to see the rebuilding of fish stocks and this can only be achieved if we understand all of the influences, human and natural, on fish dynamics.”
The project, Incorporating Extrinsic Drivers into Fisheries Management’, (IN EX FISH), aims to increase the responsiveness of fisheries management to a range of human and non-human effects on the marine environment, such as variations in water temperature, fishing and pollution.
Professor Frid added: “Fish communities can be altered in a number of ways, for example they can decrease if particular sized individuals of a species are targeted, as this affects predator and prey dynamics. Fishing, however, is not the sole perpetrator of changes to marine life - pollution is another example.
“No one factor operates in isolation and components of the ecosystem respond differently to each individual factor. We aim to identify these factors, both human and non-human, and use them to produce a system for fishing industries in which we can help bolster marine life, rather than watch it continue to deteriorate.”
The team will draw together research from around the world, such as the work of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, to produce new management strategies for marine industries throughout Europe.
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