IDENTIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT TO ACHIEVE AN ECOSYSTEM-BASED APPROACH TO FISHERIES MANAGEMENT
Qatar National Research Foundation, National Priorities Research Programme.
Dr. L Le Vay
The project will help achieve sustainable fisheries through understanding the wider ecological effects of fishing activities beyond just those on the target species, enabling implementation of management plans to protect sensitive habitats, and to reduce the wider ecosystem effects of fishing through spatial management and technical measures. This approach requires knowledge of the distribution and extent of seabed biotope types and species of conservation concern. Furthermore knowledge of habitat boundaries enables design of spatially-appropriate stock and environmental monitoring programs to provide more precise estimates of stock and environmental status. Ship-based scientific surveys will ascertain the extent and distribution of different seabed biotopes within Qatari waters, the relative proportion of seabed of different habitat types and quantify the interaction between fishing activity and habitat features of conservation importance. This will identify where fishing activities are most likely to impact upon habitats and species that are sensitive to fishing-related disturbance and those areas that might be resilient to fishing activities. We will also use stable isotope markers to identify important trophic linkages between primary production in benthic habitats and commercial fisheries and to inform isoscape mapping of Qatari waters, which will be an invaluable asset in understanding habitat use and migration of key species