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ENVIEFH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 22466
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Greece

Mapping tool helps designate essential fish habitats

The fish in our seas and oceans face many threats to their existence on account of overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change. A sustainable approach is needed to preserve the species as well as the livelihood of fisherman.
Mapping tool helps designate essential fish habitats
An important element of fisheries management is the concept of essential fish habitats (EFHs). These satisfy several specific and basic requirements related to water temperature, salinity and food supply allowing fish to breed, spawn or grow. A vital first step in protecting fish stocks for future generations is to find out where they reproduce and to declare these areas off limits for fishing and other human activities. A new mapping tool developed by European marine experts will facilitate this process.

The EU-funded project 'Environmental approach to essential fish habitat designation' (Enviefh) aimed to deliver the tools necessary to map EFHs. The approach involved combining data for the abovementioned environmental factors with information about the lifecycle of the species under study. It was also important to capture where species depletion is taking place, such as overused fishing grounds. The experience of real fishermen was also incorporated into the model.

Pilot implementation of the Enviefh model in the Mediterranean, one of Europe's oldest and most important regions for fishing, revealed some interesting findings. For example, it was possible to map the threat associated with the wart comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi) to its prey – the larvae of anchovies. In general, comparison with ship survey data indicated good agreement between the model and reality.

To help spread the word about the new tool, the Enviefh consortium issued a special issue of an international publication dedicated to the topic of mapping EFHs.

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