Our Science

Background Information

The BlueFish Operation builds from the legacy, recommendations and consortium expertise resulting from the SUSFISH project. The SUSFISH project focused on the biology of representative shellfish species in the Irish Sea. The BlueFish Operation will now apply a wider assessment of identified knowledge gaps of the potential impact of climate change on individual species and broader ecosystem health of the Irish Sea, with the inclusion of both finfish and shellfish species, and taking account of future sustainability and adaptation of fisheries and aquaculture activities in coastal communities.

Project Overview

The main objectives of BlueFish are to:

  1. Provide guidelines on climate change adaptation and economic sustainability of commercially important marine organisms in the Irish Sea;
  2. Map present and predicted future scenarios of economically important species demographics (such as sea bass, cockles, shellfish seed, lobsters, edible crabs and scallops) in order to provide adaptation guidelines for future management;
  3. Produce detailed high-resolution 3D particle track models;
  4. Develop predictions of present and future multispecies integrated fisheries activity;
  5. Assess parameters of areas for suitable site selection for fish and shellfish aquaculture;
  6. Assess the impact of disease and invasive species on future commercial viability of fish and shellfish aquaculture and fisheries;
  7. Assess commercial fisheries species ‘at risk’ to determine vulnerable capacities that need enhanced protection through an integrated maritime approach;
  8. Assess fish and shellfish health and feed data into predictive models of climate change effects and future management strategies;
  9. Raise awareness of climate change issues and potential adaptation strategies through conferences, workshops and outreach activities aimed at involving local organisations in cooperative action and sharing best practice among coastal communities.

WP1 – Project Management

As lead beneficiary Bangor University (BU) will lead the Project Management Work Package (WP1) to ensure delivery of the output indicators. A significant output for WP1 will be the cross-border conference on climate change and marine ecosystem health, held towards the end of the Operation. Click here for further information on conference and other events.

 

WP2 – Ecosystem Understanding

This work package will focus on a key set of identified knowledge gaps in order to gain clear understanding of that part of the marine ecosystem relevant to future sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture resources. These include:

  1. Trophic interactions in aquaculture systems
  2. Mapping fish / shellfish predators and how climate change will affect predators and prey.
  3. Carbon sequestration and acidification

WP2 will interact closely with WP5 (Ecosystem Change – Modelling) to assess present and future predicted distributions and connectivity of key marine species, to inform how climate change effects on particular species may have wider ecosystem level impacts.

This work package will consist of the following activities:

2.1 Understanding trophic interactions in aquaculture in a climate change context

2.2 Mapping predators

2.3 Shellfish and climate change

2.4 Ecosystem goods and services

WP3 – Ecosystem Resources and Sustainability

BlueFish will concentrate on three key examples of threatened sustainable marine resource use in the Irish Sea: scallops, seabass and bivalve shellfish seed production. The understanding of where shellfish seed and juvenile fish may or may not be under predicted climate scenarios for the Irish Sea will be crucial information for guidelines for policy in terms of protection, potentially though Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

WP3 will interact closely with WP5 (Ecosystem Change – Modelling) to assess present and future predicted distributions and connectivity of these key marine resource species, and how changes will affect utilisation of the resource.

The main element of this work package will cover:

3.1 Scallop stocks and fisheries

3.2 Seabass stocks and fisheries

3.3 Mussel populations and larval settlement

WP4 – Ecosystem Health and Well-being

The complexity of interactions between species and global climate change will require ongoing research and understanding. Currently temperature increases of a few degrees are altering major currents and thus species viability in estuaries and other coastal areas, reducing the resilience of the system to adapt. Improving our understanding of critical microbial processes is a major challenge for future research.

The potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine biota is of concern. Research is required to improve understanding of the response to ocean acidification. Additionally, impacts from the spread of non-native species may, by climate change be enhanced.

This work package will cover the following sub-topics:

4.1 Invasive species

4.2 Cockle Health

4.3 Disease Connectivity

4.4 Toxins and Pathogens under climate change

WP5 – Ecosystem Change

There is a need to combine of baseline knowledge and understanding of the present ecosystem health in order for BlueFish to address specific issues under work package 4.

The aim of WP5 is to employ multiple modelling approaches to produce future pictures of ecosystem change and so provide a framework, against which the detailed actions under WPs 2-4, can develop

‘forward-looking’ adaptation guidelines, and best practice for environmental / economic sustainability of commercially important marine organisms in the Irish Sea.

Using 3-D oceanographic models and ecological niche models, WP5 will develop a context for our understanding of the changing distributions and connectivity between shellfish, finfish and parasite / pathogen populations around the Irish Sea. Investigate how these distributions and connections might be altered by predicted climate change, effects on the physical, chemical and biotic environment in line with latest IPCC (RCP 4.5) scenarios.

WP6 – Communication and Dissemination

Outreach and communication is an integral part of the scientific programme. We will be using innovative multi-layered communication activities to reach local communities that we will be engaging with.

Online videos as well as web-based risk maps and illustrations will be produced, and then published here and on our Twitter feed.

This work-package will also be responsible for all the workshops that will be generated, as well as the conference.

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