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Ecosystem Data Collection on Irish Fisheries Surveys in Support of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

Project Outputs

As part of the data collection framework, the Marine Institute conducts ten annual fisheries research surveys at sea to provide fisheries independent data for stock assessment. Survey programmes include acoustics for Northeast Atlantic blue whiting and boarfish stocks and Northwest and Celtic Sea Herring stocks. Every three years, the Marine Institute also participates in the internationally coordinated mackerel and horse mackerel egg survey.

These surveys can be used as platforms of opportunities for the collection of additional ecosystem data to maximise vessel time. Acoustic and egg and larval surveys are particularly suitable for marine mammal observations. Data collection protocols for marine mammal observations have been reviewed and optimized to feed into biodiversity reporting. This project is based on specific end-user requirements by National Parks and Wildlife Services, and its parent department, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Data collection will supplement requirements for Article 17 reporting under the Habitats Directive, as well as provide data for MSFD and the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The project will initially run from beginning of 2017 to end of 2018, and it may be continued until 2020 based on satisfactory output in the initial two years.

Additionally, fisheries surveys can be used as platforms of opportunities for the collection of benthic and sediment samples in support of other national initiatives such as INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme. There is an ongoing requirement for substrate maps that accurately depict the sediment properties of the seabed to benefit fisheries resource management, conservation, marine spatial planning, industry and research. Substrate/sediment maps are routinely created by the INFOMAR programme and are based on two primary datasets: acoustic data (primarily bathymetry and backscatter derived from multibeam echosounders) and groundtruthing data, such as sediment sample and video transects.

With INFOMAR Phase 2 (2016-2026) primarily focused on achieving 100% seabed coverage on all remaining coastal and offshore areas, including the Celtic Sea and West coast of Ireland, there is an opportunity to review the existing seabed sampling strategy in support of the creation of high resolution substrate/sediment maps for the entire Irish shelf. To date, the production of high resolution substrate maps has been challenging for a number of reasons, including the sparse availability of sediment samples, which are critical to verify substrate interpretations and to provide greater confidence in the substrate maps.

Most of the sediment samples collection will be achieved opportunistically during fisheries surveys when the vessel is not engaged on core survey targets, and hence acquisition costs will be minimal. Database and GIS management will be managed by INFOMAR.

The project is carried out in close collaboration with the Marine Institute (Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services and Advanced Mapping Services), National Parks and Wildlife Services, and its parent department, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Duration: 

The project has a 2 year duration and runs between 2017 and 2018. The project will initially run from beginning of 2017 to end of 2018, and it may be continued until 2020 based on satisfactory output in the initial two years.

Project Outputs: 
  1. Survey reports and distributional data on marine mammals in accordance with end-user reporting requirements.
  2. Data obtained from the collection of sediment samples and relative particle size analysis. These data will be integrated and will enhance current sediment properties databases and related GIS-web services. A by-product
Expected Benefit: 

1. Data collection on four acoustic fisheries surveys on the distribution of marine mammals to supplement requirements for Article 17 reporting under the Habitats Directive
2. Data provision of the same to MSFD and the National Biodiversity Data Centre
3. Collection of benthic and sediment samples in support of other national initiatives such as INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme
4. Recommendations on the data collection of ecosystem data on fisheries surveys

Further Information: 
Contact Maurice Clarke at maurice.clarke@marine.ie
Project Cost - Projected: 
€60,000