Effectively managed fisheries are more likely to be sustainable and combine a healthy biodiverse marine ecosystem with an economically viable and competitive fisheries industry. Such fisheries management goals cannot be achieved if, for instance, the managed fish species do not have access to sufficient suitable habitat. The identification and spatiotemporal mapping of Essential Fish Habitats (EFHs) represent fundamental scientific tasks of the spatial component of fisheries management, a component that has often been neglected in previously enforced fisheries policies. The EFH-GIS (‘Essential Fish Habitats - Geographic Information Systems’) project aims to support the spatial component of fisheries management, by applying an interdisciplinary environmental approach to the mapping and designation of EFHs in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, an area that supports commercially important fisheries. Through five main research objectives, this two-year fellowship will see (1) the updating and enrichment of an existing GIS database, which (2) will be used to map ocean processes (e.g. eddies) to be fed into (3) the modelling of habitat for several commercially important species of fish. This knowledge will then be used (4) to identify over- and under-exploited fishing areas and also in a preliminary study to design a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which are sanctuaries to protect EFHs. The project intends to contribute to the long-term preservation of fisheries resources, as well as (5) increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness of the eastern Mediterranean marine ecosystem. The specialised training received as part of the fellowship, as well as the contribution made to scientific knowledge in this field, will greatly contribute to the fellow in terms of career and professional development, but also to Europe in terms of excellence and competitiveness.
Fields of science
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