A cross-Channel partnership will use innovative underwater acoustic tracking technology to identify the environmental conditions a range of important marine species need in order to thrive.
The €4million FISH INTEL project, supported by €2.8million from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England programme, will focus on a series of sites along the coastlines of southern England, northern France and Belgium.
Through a combination of fish tracking and underwater video surveys, the project will establish a comprehensive picture of fish movements and the habitats individual species prefer.
It will also contribute to a growing amount of data assessing the impact of fishing, climate change and other human activities – such as the development of offshore renewable energy sites and offshore mariculture – on the Channel/Manche region.
The FISH INTEL project involves research organisations across the UK, France and Belgium who will work directly with fishers, regulators and industry representatives in the three countries.
Across seven sites, the project will monitor marine species including European bass, pollack, crawfish and bluefin tuna, which are considered commercially important for the region.
The resulting data about their movements, and the habitats they occupy, will then be shared with other key stakeholders, enforcement bodies and policy makers.
Ultimately, it is hoped the research will enable authorities across the region to implement Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) programmes with the aim of enhancing the condition and water quality in these habitats, as well as enabling activities – such as fishing, civil engineering projects and extract industries – to function in a sustainable way.
It is also designed to bring about greater collaboration and communication between a range of different partners with a common interest in the Channel/Manche region.