Conserving biodiversity for the future health of the planet

Apr 30, 2013
Conserving biodiversity for the future health of the planet
Credit: Hafrannsoknastofnun

Many ideas for EU-funded projects are born in the quest to further scientific research, particularly in areas where little information exists.

The CoralFISH project has uncovered new information on how fish use their habitats in the . To do so, project partners assessed the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries, and then used this information to develop monitoring and predictive modelling tools for ecosystem-based management in the of Europe and beyond. They also looked at coral systems that had been damaged by human activity such as deep sea trawling, and found ways to protect them from further damage.

The project was coordinated by Dr Sadhbh Baxter and Dr Anthony Grehan from the department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the National University of Ireland. It brought together a consortium of 16 partners comprising deep-sea fisheries biologists, ecosystem researchers/modellers, economists and a SME, representing 11 countries from all over Europe.

This unique project received funding of EUR 10.8 million, of which EUR 6.4 million came from the European Commission. This enabled, for the first time, the quantification of coral habitats in six areas - off the west coast of Ireland, Iceland, Eastern Norwegian Sea, the (France), around the Azores and in the Ionian Sea (Italy). Models where developed to predict where corals could be found, which led to the discovery of a previously unknown sponge ground in Norwegian waters.

Predicting the whereabouts of corals will help policy makers understand how to best use marine space - for fishing, telecommunications cables and , while also protecting the environment.

Dr. Anthony Grehan, who specialises in deep sea ecology, says, 'The need to develop the tools and a strategy for the implementation of maritime has become increasingly urgent. This is because of human activity in the deep sea, which is expanding, for example, in fishing, oil and gas exploration, as well as potential mineral mining. Therefore, competition for deep-sea resources has become more intense while the need to ensure adequate conservation of biodiversity and genetic variety is a priority for the future health of the planet.'

The project is the first European effort to develop standardised video analysis for deep seafloor mapping, having developed a software programme called COVER (Customisable Video Image Observation Record). The best elements of this have been incorporated into software at the French Institute for Exploration at Sea (Ifremer).

Although CoralFISH has now ended, elements of the project will carry on through further funding from the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation. Further information about the results of the will be published in a Special Edition of Deep Sea Research due out in early 2014.

Explore further: MEPs back plans to slash use of plastic shopping bags

More information: CoralFISH www.eu-fp7-coralfish.net/

Ifremer wwz.ifremer.fr/institut_eng

Horizon 2020 ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Deep-sea fish in deep trouble

Sep 07, 2011

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, the Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer ...

Recommended for you

China says massive area of its soil polluted

5 hours ago

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?