European Commission logo
polski polski
CORDIS - Wyniki badań wspieranych przez UE
CORDIS
Zawartość zarchiwizowana w dniu 2024-06-18

Assessment of the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries, in order to develop monitoring and predictive modelling tools for ecosystem based management in the deep waters of Europe and beyond

Final Report Summary - CORALFISH (Assessment of the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries, in order to develop monitoring and predictive modelling tools for ecosystem based management in the deep waters of Europe and beyond)

Executive Summary:
The principal goal of the CoralFISH project was to address the global challenge laid down by the United Nations in 2006 (UN General Assembly Resolution (61/105)) calling upon fisheries management organisations worldwide to assess the impact of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems and identify and map vulnerable ecosystems through improved scientific research and data collection as a basis for their protection.

In Europe, the main vulnerable marine ecosystems found in offshore waters are cold-water coral and sponge habitats. CoralFISH set out to provide the science, tools and methods necessary to support ecosystem based management of deep-sea resources through the study of the interaction between one of these vulnerable marine ecosystem examples - cold-water corals, and the fish and fisheries found in their vicinity. Cold-water coral (CWC) habitats include stony coral reefs and soft coral gardens, and are typified by corals that live in cold oceanic water, inhabit hard substrates and feed on zooplankton or particulate organic matter. They harbour a diversity of associated species that rival that of tropical coral reefs, and form habitats that may be important for commercial fish but are fragile and easily succumb to impacts from fishing.

CoralFISH assembled a unique consortium representing 17 institutes/SMEs from 11 countries, that cut across traditional boundaries by teaming natural scientists with fisheries biologists as well as a member of the fishing industry. The highly multi-disciplinary project was pan-European in scope, with regional study areas widely dispersed around Europe including some ultra peripheral areas. The project was field intensive and data was collected from an impressive 27 research expeditions across all the study areas.

The sustainable exploitation and management of marine resources and marine environmental protection (including the designation of offshore and high-seas Marine Protected Areas) require not only data and an understanding of how ecosystems function and interact, but also an ability to model, forecast and predict (EC Atlantic Action Plan, 2013). CoralFISH research has addressed all these key issues in the deep-sea and in so doing has developed standard methodologies and tools to produce the first comprehensive catalogue and sea floor maps of European coral habitats; improved our understanding of coral ecosystem functioning including the role of fish; and developed decision support tools for policymakers and planners engaged in spatial planning in offshore and High Seas areas, including the analysis of gene flow to address marine protected area network connectivity and the development of models to predict coral habitat distribution at global, regional and local levels in areas where data are lacking. CoralFISH with its major research focus in the Atlantic will add value to future planned initiatives as part of the European Commissions Maritime Strategy and Action Plan for the Atlantic. Similarly, in the Mediterranean, CoralFISH research will input into the UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean Region, particularly with regards the development of MPAs beyond national jurisdiction or in areas where the limits of national sovereignty or jurisdiction have yet to be defined.

Project Context and Objectives:
The principal goal of the CoralFISH project was to address the global challenge laid down by the United Nations in 2006 (UN General Assembly Resolution (61/105)) calling upon fisheries management organisations worldwide to assess the impact of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems, identify and map vulnerable ecosystems through improved scientific research and data collection, and close such areas to bottom fishing unless conservation and management measures were established to prevent their degradation.

In Europe, the main vulnerable marine ecosystems found in offshore waters are cold-water coral and sponge habitats. CoralFISH set out to provide the science, tools and methods necessary to support ecosystem based management of deep-sea resources through the study of the interaction between one of these vulnerable marine ecosystem examples - cold-water corals, and the fish and fisheries found in their vicinity. Cold-water coral (CWC) habitats include stony coral reefs and soft coral gardens, and are typified by corals that live in cold oceanic water, inhabit hard substrates and feed on zooplankton or particulate organic matter. They harbour a diversity of associated species that rival that of tropical coral reefs, and form habitats that may be important for commercial fish but are fragile and easily succumb to impacts from fishing.

The main objectives of CoralFISH were to:
• Develop essential methodologies and indicators for baseline and subsequent monitoring of closed areas,
• Use genetic fingerprinting to assess the potential erosion of genetic fitness of corals due to long- term exposure to fishing impacts,
• Better understand coral habitat fish-carrying capacity through the integration of fish data into coral ecosystem models,
• Produce habitat suitability maps both regionally and for OSPAR Region V (NE Atlantic) to identify areas likely to contain vulnerable marine habitat.
• Evaluate the distribution of deep-water bottom fishing effort to identify areas of potential interaction and impact upon coral habitat,
• Construct bio-economic models to assess the impact on fisheries of various management measures adopted to protect coral habitat.

CoralFISH assembled a unique consortium representing 17 institutes/SMEs from 11 countries, that cut across traditional boundaries by teaming natural scientists with fisheries biologists as well as a member of the fishing industry. The highly multi-disciplinary project was pan-European in scope, with regional study areas widely dispersed around Europe including some ultra peripheral areas. The study areas encompassed the 6 major eco-regions where cold-water corals occur in European waters (Figure 1) and as such provided the project with a full spectrum of the environmental settings where corals are found.

The principal goal of the CoralFISH project was to address the global challenge laid down by the United Nations in 2006 (UN General Assembly Resolution (61/105)) calling upon fisheries management organisations worldwide to assess the impact of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems, identify and map vulnerable ecosystems through improved scientific research and data collection, and close such areas to bottom fishing unless conservation and management measures were established to prevent their degradation.

In Europe, the main vulnerable marine ecosystems found in offshore waters are cold-water coral and sponge habitats. CoralFISH set out to provide the science, tools and methods necessary to support ecosystem based management of deep-sea resources through the study of the interaction between one of these vulnerable marine ecosystem examples - cold-water corals, and the fish and fisheries found in their vicinity. Cold-water coral (CWC) habitats include stony coral reefs and soft coral gardens, and are typified by corals that live in cold oceanic water, inhabit hard substrates and feed on zooplankton or particulate organic matter. They harbour a diversity of associated species that rival that of tropical coral reefs, and form habitats that may be important for commercial fish but are fragile and easily succumb to impacts from fishing.

The main objectives of CoralFISH were to:
• Develop essential methodologies and indicators for baseline and subsequent monitoring of closed areas,
• Use genetic fingerprinting to assess the potential erosion of genetic fitness of corals due to long- term exposure to fishing impacts,
• Better understand coral habitat fish-carrying capacity through the integration of fish data into coral ecosystem models,
• Produce habitat suitability maps both regionally and for OSPAR Region V (NE Atlantic) to identify areas likely to contain vulnerable marine habitat.
• Evaluate the distribution of deep-water bottom fishing effort to identify areas of potential interaction and impact upon coral habitat,
• Construct bio-economic models to assess the impact on fisheries of various management measures adopted to protect coral habitat.

CoralFISH assembled a unique consortium representing 17 institutes/SMEs from 11 countries, that cut across traditional boundaries by teaming natural scientists with fisheries biologists as well as a member of the fishing industry. The highly multi-disciplinary project was pan-European in scope, with regional study areas widely dispersed around Europe including some ultra peripheral areas. The study areas encompassed the 6 major eco-regions where cold-water corals occur in European waters (Figure 1) and as such provided the project with a full spectrum of the environmental settings where corals are found.


Figure 1. Schematic representation of the 6 regional study areas of the CoralFISH project.The 6 study areas are located; (1) offshore south Iceland (biogeographic region A); (2) offshore Norway (biogeographic region D); (3) offshore western Ireland (Porcupine Bank and Seabight, and Rockall Trough, within biogeographic region E); (4) offshore western France (Bay of Biscay, biogeographic region G); (5) offshore Italy and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean sea (Northern Ionian sea, biogeographic region I) and (6) in the Azores archipelago (biogeographic region K).


Project Results:
CoralFISH completed an impressive 27 research expeditions across all study areas. New data acquisition focused on:
i. Mapping of coral habitats in each of the six regional study areas,
ii. Coordinated surveys to investigate the interaction of fish with coral habitat using the standard methodologies, i.e. acoustic fisheries survey, commercial long-lining and detailed in situ observation with Remotely Operated Vehicles, submersibles or towed video apparatus,
iii. Detailed temporal observations of both fish and coral and their response to changing environmental conditions using 'state of the art' instrumented landers, deployed for periods of days to months in contrasting coral locations in Norway, off the west coast of Ireland and in the Ionian Sea.
iv. Collection of material for taxonomy and genetic studies.

1.3.1. The development of essential methodologies and indicators for baseline and subsequent monitoring of closed areas.

1.3.1.1. Regional cold-water coral settings: the CoralFISH Coral Atlas
A first step in understanding the importance of coral habitat for fish is to estimate how much coral habitat actually occurs in an area relative to other habitats. Very few studies provide spatial context when describing habitats in the deep-sea and therefore a key goal of the CoralFISH project, was to quantify the extent of cold-water coral habitat in a defined area as a fundamental step in ascertaining its functional role in the deep-sea. Quantifying habitat provides much needed improvements in the scientific information supplied to (marine spatial) planners, tasked with, for example, drawing boundaries around marine protected areas. Also this information will help to inform the debate currently taking place in the International Council of Exploration for the Seas (i.e. the ICES Working Group on Deep-Sea Ecosystems) as to what quantity of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem indicators actual constitutes a Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem per se.

CoralFISH succeeded in delivering harmonised maps of coral habitat in all six eco-regions studied by the project. This was achieved by considerable investment in the development of protocols and tools to support implementation of a standardised methodology including:

• A CoralFISH sampling protocol (including statistical sampling design),
• Standard data categories with explanatory glossary to add video analysis,
• Development of a bespoke software programme, ‘Cover’ - Customizable Video Image Observation Record, to support standardised video analysis.

CoralFISH seafloor classification was performed on high-resolution digital terrain models (DTMs) constructed from existing and newly acquired multi-beam bathymetric data. Semi-automatic classification algorithms were developed for use in a Geographic Information System (GIS) to support geomorphological characterisation (e.g. Figure 2) of each of the six CoralFISH study areas.



Figure 2. Geomorphologic map of the Bay of Biscay.

Quantitative coral coverage (areal extent) was then calculated by selecting those geomorphological classes that represented proxies for coral occurrence. This is the first time that a European inter-regional comparison of deep-sea habitats has been performed.

1.3.1.2. Regional cold-water coral settings: The CoralFISH Coral Habitat Catalogue
Describing the variation of coral habitats present in European waters is important not only to understand their likely different functioning with regards fish but also to improve the focus of conservation efforts particularly in light of the targets set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 to fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives, and maintain and restore ecosystems and their services by 2020. This information combined with the detailed mapping undertaken in the project can contribute to one of the key actions of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, i.e. the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services in Europe (MAES).

A comprehensive inventory describing the variety of European cold-water coral habitats was produced largely from the analysis of new video and photographs obtained during CoralFISH. In total 81 coral habitat types have been described including several new coral biotopes based on ‘repeat’ observations of similar species assemblages in different CoralFISH locations. This information will be of major interest to the European Environment Agency who are undertaking a revision of the European Union Nature Information System (EUNIS) classification of deep-sea biotopes in 2014. Regionally, the information will be used to support the designation of offshore Special Areas of Conservation to protect corals in the Bay of Biscay, France. It should be noted that CWC habitats have been found on sand and mud (soft bottoms), traditionally considered to be non-coral areas and exploitable by fishing. The potential impact on these corals should be factored into the future management of offshore activities (including deep-sea fishing).

1.3.1.3. Regional deep-water fish and fisheries: Commercial fish caught in the vicinity of coral reefs
A first step in understanding the importance of coral habitat for fish is to know what fish occur close to coral habitats. A CoralFISH review of commercial fish species caught in the vicinity of CWCs identified a total of 63 fish species. The review included a description of their distribution and known or supposed linkages with CWC habitats.

1.3.1.4. Regional deep-water fish and fisheries: CoralFISH deep-sea fish stomach content database
Analysing the diet of fish caught in the vicinity of CWC is an important means of potentially linking fish to the CWC food-web. CoralFISH built an extensive stomach content database by acquiring an important historical dataset and supplementing it with new data collected during the project. Records of 9898 non-empty stomach contents belonging to 88 fish species were amassed. The database is fully compatible with, and will add to, the international Integrated Database and Portal for Fish Stomach Records (DAPSTOM), an on-going initiative (supported by DEFRA, UK and the EU) to digitize and make available fish stomach content records spanning the past 100 years.

1.3.1.5. Regional deep-water fish and fisheries: Mapping fishing distribution over CWC habitats using Vessel Monitoring System data
The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is a satellite-based monitoring system that provides at regular intervals, data about the location, course and speed of fishing vessels to the fisheries authorities. This data can be used to estimate the fishing footprint (distribution and intensity) in a given area. When combined with electronic logbook data that records start and end position of individual fishing operations and catch, the spatial distribution of commercial fish species can be estimated. In the CoralFISH project, this type of information was only available to our non-European Union, Icelandic partners. They were able to accurately redraw the path of individual longlines or bottom trawl tows permitting full resolution of the footprint of the fishery at a spatial scale equivalent to the coverage of coral habitats (~1 km). It should therefore be mandatory that future Horizon 2020 projects assessing fish-habitat interactions be given full access to electronic logbook and Vessel Monitoring System data collected under the Data Collection Regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy.
1.3.1.6. Deep-water fish occurrence and fisheries impacts in cold-water coral habitat
Developing methods to describe the interaction of fish with corals was one of the main goals of CoralFISH. A variety of techniques were tested in combination with the development of a robust experimental statistical survey design. An intensive fieldwork programme using fisheries acoustics, long-line sampling, video transects, and benthic landers provided experimental data that facilitated comparison at different scales, of fish assemblages found in coral with those found in non-coral areas. This type of study has not previously been carried out in European deep-water research and should lead to more robust monitoring of, for example, cold-water coral Special Areas of Conservation and seafloor integrity as part of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

In general, while it was difficult to determine the outright importance of coral habitat for fish, a number of interesting relationships were identified. The species composition of fish and the number of species in coral habitats are very different between regions. In the Nordic Seas, the fish community is less diverse compared to the Azores and those of the Mediterranean. Species diversity is very similar in both coral and non-coral habitats. This is a general pattern found in all investigated areas.

In the Nordic Seas there is no evidence that CWC represents an essential fish habitat that influences fish stocks at the population level (e.g. saithe, blue whiting, redfish, tusk). However, some species show a statistically significant higher abundance in CWC habitat compared with non-CWC habitat in the same area. In Nordic Seas, the tusk (Brosme brosme) is the common species in long-line catches and the Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) is highest in coral habitat. It seems clear that the association is of a facultative nature and corals may act as a preferred rather than an essential habitat for tusk.

In more species-rich communities, e.g. in the NE Atlantic coral mounds and the Mediterranean, some species are more abundant in coral habitat, while others appear in all studied habitats, and some are never found in coral habitat. For the commercial Pagellus bogavero (Blackspot Seabream), large specimens were exclusively collected in Mediterranean coral habitats.

Evidence of the impact from fisheries has been documented from all investigated sites, however, a quantitative assessment has proved to be difficult. Impact was inferred from evidence of trawl marks close to damaged corals, lost and entangled gears such as lines, anchors, and moorings in coral habitats, and by-catch of corals and other fauna in experimental long-line fishing. The impact of bottom long-lining on benthic organisms was very much lower when compared to bottom trawl gears. Litter, not directly linked to fishing, is also commonly documented in some areas, e.g. plastic, glass, ceramics, terracotta, clothing and metal.

1.3.2. The use of genetic fingerprinting to assess the potential erosion of genetic fitness of corals due to long- term exposure to fishing impacts

Statistically robust sampling techniques were applied for the first time in the deep-sea to better understand the importance of clonality and connectivity in the principal European reef building corals (Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata) occurring all the way from the Mediterranean to Iceland.

Key findings included that there is a low influence of clonal (versus sexual) reproduction in both Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata, based on efficient molecular barcoding facilitating the identification of each genetic individual. Interestingly, results suggest that mechanical disturbance by fisheries may increase the prevalence of clonal reproduction in some areas through increased fragmentation and dispersion of individual coral colonies.

The diversity and dispersion characteristics and hence population connectivity patterns of L. pertusa and M. oculata were shown to differ (Figure 3). Therefore in planning to optimize the representativeness and connectivity of Marine Protected Areas networks, multi-species conservation requirements need to be taken into account.

Figure 3. Genetic connectivity map highlighting: (i) genetically distinct areas (colour patches) for Madrepora oculata and (ii) the rather homogeneous distribution of the highly connected populations of Lophelia pertusa (dashed line).

While fishing related impacts do occur in coral habitats, the ability of CoralFISH geneticists to arrive at a degree of quantification of these impacts to date has been compromised by difficulties obtaining relevant Member State Vessel Monitoring System data as a proxy for fishing activity.

1.3.3. The better understanding of coral habitat fish-carrying capacity through the integration of fish data into coral ecosystem models.

CoralFISH has shown that cold-water corals are hotspots of carbon processing along continental margins. Their high organic carbon-processing rate, previously unaccounted for in regional carbon budgets, indicate that CWCs make a significant (~25%) contribution to the annual organic carbon processing of the entire Norwegian Shelf.

A coupled hydrographic-ecosystem model describing a NE Atlantic coral mound province on Rockall Bank indicates that direct benthic-pelagic coupling exists between CWC habitats occurring at depths of 600m and surface productivity, due to a tidal-induced down-welling of fresh organic matter from the ocean surface towards the coral mound.

Strong inter-regional differences are apparent in the functioning of CWC reefs. Carbon cycling is dominated by corals at Traena (Norway) where there is a strong contribution from zooplankton in their diet. At the Belgica Mounds (Ireland) in contrast, a larger diversity of groups constitutes the food web, with zooplankton being of minor importance in coral diets. On Mediterranean reefs, the invertebrate biomass is substantially lower than at Atlantic sites, most likely due to differences in primary productivity in the overlying water column.

Fish abundance on cold-water coral reefs, assessed by measuring arrival times of fish to bait dispersed from baited landers, show that the fish density on corals is about 7 times higher than at non-coral reference stations.
1.3.4. The production of habitat suitability maps both regionally and for OSPAR Region V to identify areas likely to contain vulnerable marine habitat.

Recognising that it is not technically feasible to map deep-sea biodiversity over large areas using video/photographic systems, CoralFISH put a major effort into developing robust habitat suitability modelling methodologies to predict coral habitat over large areas based on partial knowledge of actual coral distribution in a given area. The work was among the principal successes of the CoralFISH project.

Global models of habitat suitability for a number of deep-water corals were developed. Global predictions for suborders of octocorals were published in the Journal of Biogeography, and a similar study for black corals will soon be published. Octocoral predicted distribution maps were incorporated as layers into the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Geographic Information System (GIS) that informed the initial identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) for the Atlantic during a joint OSPAR/NEAFC/CBD Scientific Workshop held in Toulon in September, 2011. An analysis of octocoral distribution in relation to management areas instigated by the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation NEAFC (the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Council) was presented at a NEAFC organised symposium on the Management of Bottom Fishing in June, 2012. Fishing currently occupies areas deemed highly suitable for all 7 octocoral suborders (Figure 4).


Figure 4. Habitat suitability models of octocoral distribution compared with management areas in the NEAFC region as presented at the NEAFC Deep Sea Fishing Symposium by ZSL in 2012.

Regional habitat suitability models for a number of cold water corals on the Azores plateau were developed. This work built on an extensive coral distribution database and produced high resolution estimates of coral distribution in the region. A regional high resolution model of habitat suitability for Lophelia reef in the Irish offshore was developed and published in the Journal of Biogeography. This work included the production of new oceanographic data for the area that has been archived in PANGAEA so that it can be used by other marine researchers. The maps produced enabled an assessment of the contribution of existing Special Areas of Conservation to protect the full biogeographic expression, in terms of associated biodiversity, of Irish cold-water coral reefs. Additionally, this important paper demonstrated that habitat suitability models based on terrain attributes derived from high resolution multi-beam generated bathymetry, are sufficiently robust to serve as decision support tools for policymakers tasked with marine spatial planning decisions.

1.3.5. The evaluation of the distribution of deep-water bottom fishing effort to identify areas of potential interaction and impact upon coral habitat

A re-occurring issue during the lifetime of the CoralFISH project has been the difficulty encountered by the project in obtaining relevant Vessel Monitoring System data from Member States in order to access the interaction and impact of fishing activity upon coral habitats. The lack of straightforward access to such data has impacted our planned work within the European Union Economic Exclusion Zone, however the current revision of the Common Fisheries Policy will hopefully ensure that this is not the case for similar projects in the future.

Our non-European Union partner, Iceland, however provided an example of a positive conservation/fisheries management outcome based on having access to VMS data. During the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) to protect cold-water corals, VMS data showed that the closure partially extended into a heavily fished area. VMS data then facilitated redrawing of the MPA boundary to minimize the disruption to fishing while still ensuring the conservation objectives of the MPA were fully met.

To assist policy makers with the application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, CoralFISH undertook the development of web-enabled Geographic Information System tools. These tools demonstrate the technical feasibility of using web-services to produce predicted habitat maps outputs using different thresholds (i.e. likelihood of occurrence). These layers can then be queried against the fishing footprint to assess the risk of impact in coral habitats. Appropriate fisheries management measures can then be applied to manage this risk and ensure minimal interaction between fisheries and vulnerable marine ecosystems.

1.3.6. The construction of bio-economic models to assess the impact on fisheries of various management measures adopted to protect coral habitat.

CoralFISH bioeconomic analysis focused on incorporating ecosystem processes into traditional fisheries bioeconomic models. The production function method used provided indications of the potential economic importance of cold-water coral. One important finding was that to successfully incorporate habitat into bioeconomic models, measurements of habitat areal extent (coverage) becomes critical for a more accurate economic analysis. This type of data is now available within the CoralFISH project.

CWC provide direct provisioning, regulating and cultural services but their main characteristic is as a provider of supporting services such as habitat and biodiversity.

Managing fisheries without taking into account this larger ecosystem perspective may potentially cost fisheries economically, as habitat loss will over time reduce fish carrying capacity and lead to lower fisheries profitability, particularly when target species derive some benefit from corals as a preferred habitat. This may lead to the development of a ‘tragedy of the commons’ scenario in relation to deep-sea seafloor habitats.

Potential Impact:
CoralFISH scientists and students have all participated in disseminating CoralFISH research at international conferences, via the peer reviewed literature and through the media (e.g. Figure 5) and school outreach activities.



Figure 5. Sophie Arnaud, IFREMER, and chief scientist presenting some of the results from the BobEco expedition during her interview for French prime time TF1 TV news discussing some in November 2011.

The scientific research conducted by CoralFISH has been well received with 48 papers, many in high ranking journals, already published. To further promote the outputs from the project, CoralFISH collaborated with the EC Deepfishman project to host an international symposium: “The scientific basis for ecosystem based resource management and monitoring in the deep-waters of the Mediterranean & North Atlantic” in Galway between August 28th to 31st, 2012. A total of 78 participants (Figure 6) from 14 countries were present and participants included representatives from the EC DG Research, Government Agencies, NGOs and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Figure 6. Participants at the CoralFISH/Deepfishman symposium in Galway in 2012.

Dissemination of project results will continue for the next couple of years and will be facilitated in the short term by a planned Deep-Sea Research Special Issue with a commitment for a further twenty four papers. Project products such as the CoralFISH Coral Atlas and the Coral Habitat Catalogue (Figure 7) will prove valuable to scientific advisory groups, e.g. the ICES Working Groups on Deep-


Figure 7. The CoralFISH Catalogue of European Cold Water Coral Habitats.
Sea Ecosystems and Marine Habitat Mapping, and EMODnet, as well as policymakers, e.g. the European Environmental Agency engaged in the EUNIS deep-sea biotopes classification revision.

During the lifetime of the project, CoralFISH results/outputs were highly relevant to the debate/implementation of a number of European policy instruments (Habitats Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Common Fisheries Policy) in the deep-sea:

1.4.1. Science-policy interactions: Common Fisheries Policy

To ensure that the latest scientific results were available to policy makers involved in the debate surrounding the revision of the Deep-Sea Access Regime, CoralFISH put a major effort into effectively communicating the latest science to policy makers (DG Mare) and industry (Regional Advisory Councils and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Council – NEAFC).

To ensure integrated ‘ecosystem based’ scientific advice at the European level, CoralFISH (with it’s deep-sea ecosystem focus), instigated collaboration with its FP7 sister project, Deepfishman (with its fisheries management focus), early in 2012. This collaboration resulted in a number of joint initiatives (including the Galway Symposium) and a consensus favouring recommendations with an emphasis on spatial planning to ensure adequate protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the management of fisheries.

DG Mare Briefings
A CoralFISH presentation of the latest science results was given by Anthony Grehan, Alessandra Savini, Sophie Arnaud, Julian M. Burgos, Stefán Aki Ragnarsson, and Jan-Helge Fossa at a DG Mare Conference de Midi on the 30th May, 2011 in Brussels.

A joint CoralFISH/Deepfishman presentation on some of the key findings from the Galway Symposium on the scientific basis for ecosystem based resource management and monitoring in the deep-waters of the Mediterranean & North Atlantic was given at a DG Mare ‘Conference de Midi’ on the 26th October, 2012 in Brussels (Figure 8).

Figure 8. CoralFISH and Deepfishman coordinators, Anthony Grehan (NUI Galway) and Pascal Lorance (IFREMER) and project scientists: Jean-Francois Bourillet and Verena Trenkel (IFREMER), and Andy Kenny (CEFAS); together with Ana Teresa Caetano (DG Research) and Armando Astudillo (moderator), Fernando Nieto Conde and John Brincat (DG Mare) at the Conference de Midi.

A rolling presentation of key CoralFISH results and round-table meeting between CoralFISH representatives, Anthony Grehan, Alessandra Savini, Pauline Harrison. Jan-Helge Fossa and Odd-Askel Bergstad and the Director, Atlantic, Outermost Regions and Arctic, Bernard Freiss and his team: Maria Candela Castillo and Fernando Nieto Conde, took place in Brussels on 1st February 2013.

Regional Advisory Council and NEAFC Briefings

A presentation entitled: ‘The FP7 CoralFISH project: supporting marine spatial planning as an important component of ecosystem based management in the deep-sea,’ was made at the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, ‘Management of Bottom Fishing Symposium’, 25th to 26th June, 2012, London.

Recommendations for the sustainable management of deep-sea resources were presented at the Deepfishman/CoralFISH ‘Deep-water fisheries ecosystem based management stakeholder workshop, 31st August, 2012, Galway.

A presentation entitled: “The FP7 CoralFISH project: supporting ecosystem based management in the deep-sea”, was made at the Joint Regional Advisory Councils (Common Fisheries Policy) Focus Group meeting on Deep-sea Habitats and Species, November, 2012, Paris and subsequently at the Inter RAC (Regional Advisory Councils to the Common Fisheries Policy) Seminar on the Management of Deep Sea species, May 2013, Edinburgh.

1.4.2. Science-policy interactions: Other Policy Instruments

Habitats Directive
The Marine Protected Areas Agency in France will use CoralFISH coral habitat maps to support the future designation of cold-water coral Special Areas of Conservation in the Bay of Biscay.

CoralFISH tools, namely: high resolution habitat suitability models and gene flow analytical techniques to improve the effectiveness and connectivity of MPA networks, were presented at the International Marine Protected Area Congress in Marseille, September 2013.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive
CoralFISH participated in the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services workshop organised by DG Environment under Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 in 2013. The need to include ecosystem valuations as a key component in marine spatial planning.

An overview of CoralFISH mapping activities was presented to the Marine Observation and Data Expert Group (MODEG) of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) at their meeting in February 2012. The need to consider the outputs from habitat suitability models to support EMODnet Biology was stressed.

European Ocean Literacy
CoralFISH has supported the nascent ocean literacy movement in European through participation in the first and second European Ocean Literacy conferences held in Bruges and Plymouth in 2012 and 2013 respectively. CoralFISH also participated in a European Commission sponsored meeting hosted by VLIZ in Ostend in June, 2012, to advance the work programme for Horizon 2020.


United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
CoralFISH participated in a meeting supporting the identification of areas of Ecological and Biological Significance (EBSAs) in the Atlantic organised by OSPAR and NEAFC in Port Cros, France in October 2011. Outputs from a CoralFISH NE Atlantic predicted habitat octocoral distribution map were included in the GIS database assembled to support identification of EBSAs.

1.4.3. Concluding Remarks

Finally, CoralFISH can be considered a ‘model’ large integrated project in that beneficiaries from all countries and disciplines cooperated closely. A particular feature of the project was a very good gender balance and young scientists taking positions of responsibility (Figure 9).


Figure 9. At work during a Cover video inter-calibration workshop in Faro.

CoralFISH brought together natural and fisheries scientists for the first time in meaningful collaboration to support the adoption of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. The commitment and enthusiasm shown by all the participants in this project was exemplary and went far beyond what was contractually required.

List of Websites:

CoralFISH website: www.fp7-coralFISH.eu.
Email contact: anthony.grehan@nuigalway.ie

final1-coralfish-213144-finalreport.pdf