Inventory of EU Marine Climate Change Research

New search

CORALFISH - Assessment of the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries in the deep waters of Europe and beyond

Project website:

Summary information

Funding:FP7 - Collaborative Research Project - Large-scale Integrating Project
Total cost:10890000
Ec contribution:6500000
Start date:2008-06-01
End date:2012-05-31
Duration:48 months
Coordinator:Anthony Grehan (
Organisation:National University of Ireland – Ireland
Themes:Temerature changes; ocean cuirculation changes; ocean acidification; deep circulation changes; biological impacts; socio-economuic consequences
Regio:Arctic; North Atlantic; Mediterranean Sea
Keywords:Habitat suitability modelling (HSM); predicted distribution of vulnerable marine ecosystems; cold-water corals; climate change scenarios; deep sea; coral habitat; fisheries; fish
Project name:CORALFISH - Assessment of the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries in the deep waters of Europe and beyond
Project summary:In 2006, the UN General Assembly Resolution (AL61/L38) called upon fisheries management organisations worldwide to: i) assess the impact of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems, ii) identify/map vulnerable ecosystems through improved scientific research/data collection, and iii) close such areas to bottom fishing unless conservation and management measures were established to prevent their degradation. In European deep waters, in addition, there is now a need to establish monitoring tools to evaluate the effectiveness of closed areas for the conservation of biodiversity and fish and their impact on fisheries. Currently the tools necessary to achieve these management goals are wholly lacking. CoralFISH aims to support the implementation of an ecosystem-based management approach in the deep-sea by studying the interaction between cold-water coral habitat, fish and fisheries. CoralFISH brings together a unique consortium of deep-sea fisheries biologists, ecosystem researchers/modellers, economists and a fishing industry SME, who will collaborate to collect data from key European marine eco-regions.

CoralFISH aims to:

- develop essential methodologies and indicators for baseline and subsequent monitoring of closed areas;
- integrate fish into coral ecosystem models to better understand coral fish-carrying capacity;
- evaluate the distribution of deepwater bottom fishing effort to identify areas of potential interaction and impact upon coral habitat;
- use genetic fingerprinting to assess the potential erosion of genetic fitness of corals due to long-term exposure to fishing impacts;
- construct bio-economic models to assess management effects on corals and fisheries to provide policy options;
- produce habitat suitability maps both regionally and for OSPAR Region V to identify areas likely to contain vulnerable habitat. The latter will provide the EU with the tools to address the issues raised by the UNGA resolution.

New data acquisition is an important goal of CoralFISH. This process can be divided into three parts in the project:
- improved mapping of coral habitat in each of six regional study areas;
- coordinated surveys in each of these regions to investigate the interaction of fish with coral habitat using the same methodologies, i.e. acoustic fisheries survey, commercial long-lining and finally detailed in situ observation with Remotely Operated Vehicles or submersibles or towed video apparatus;
- detailed temporal observations of both fish and coral and their response to changing environmental forcing using 'state of the art' instrumented lander systems provided by NIOZ and UNIABDN.

The lander work will be carried out in three known coral locations in Norway, off the west coast of Ireland and in the Ionian Sea, and will provide a wide variation in ambient environmental conditions and will feed into WP 5 - ecosystem modelling. Coral by-catch caught on long-lines will be preserved, identified and sent to partners carrying out genetic studies in WP4. Information generated in WP 5 will be used to constrain habitat suitability models to enable better prediction of the likely occurrence of vulnerable habitat (corals) in WP6 and WP7. All of this information together with evaluation of deep-water bottom fisheries (WP2) will inform the development of bio-economic models (WP8) that will be used to assess the impact of management measures to protect coral habitat from fisheries.