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Description

Main research question/goal
What is the importance of the pelagic ecosystem and the role of zooplankton in the Belgian part of the North Sea? Due to overfishing, there is a global evolution of a demersal (associated with the seabed) dominated system (i.e. trawling) to a system with mainly (semi-) pelagic species (meaning, species living in the water column). Due to the current climate changes, an increase in jellyfish and other low-trophic planktivorous pelagic species is observed. Research on the extent to which this trend occurs in the (southern) North Sea is strongly recommended.

Research approach
The spatial and temporal distribution of zooplankton and pelagic fish in the Belgian part of the North Sea is determined by means of a monthly sampling scheme. The diet of the most common (commercial) pelagic fish species is mapped. We also assess the role of pelagic fish as a food source for seabirds. This leads to better understanding of the pelagic food web of the Belgian part of the North Sea.

Relevance/Valorisation
To formulate a sustainable strategy for the Flemish fishing industry, we must consider a diversification of fishing methods, including the search for niche fisheries and the sustainable use of other marine living resources. Zooplankton plays a crucial role in the pelagic food web as staple food for higher trophic levels. A better understanding of the spatial and temporal distribution of the zooplankton in relation to the presence of pelagic fish and seabirds is needed to assess the importance of the pelagic ecosystem and the possibilities of a (semi-) pelagic fishery in the North Sea.
AcronymPELAGICS
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/01/0931/12/13
  • Hostens, Kris (Project Manager)
  • Van Ginderdeuren, Karl, (Former Researcher)

ID: 4145440