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IEO studies connection between fish stocks exploited by Spanish and Moroccan fleets

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Thursday, February 20, 2020, 19:00 (GMT + 9)

  • During 25 days, scientists will capture fish larvae and eggs in the Alboran Sea and the Gulf of Cádiz aboard the Emma Bardán research vessel in the framework of an international project
  • The results will reveal whether the current limits of the fisheries management units in the Alboran Sea are the appropriate spatial scale for the evaluation and management of sardine, hake and blackspot sea bream stocks

Scientists from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), the University of Malaga and the National Institute of Recherche Halieutique of Morocco will carry out a study in waters on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar during 25 days, which aims to obtain larvae and sardine eggs and other species and study the connectivity of their populations in order to improve fisheries management in an international collaboration framework and ensure their sustainability. The study is funded by FAO, GFCM and the IEO in addition to the contribution of the research vessel Emma Bardán by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the realization of the campaign.
The black dots show each of the almost 100 sampling stations in which eggs and larvae will be collected and will take data on temperature, salinity and fluorescence in the water.
A scientific team led by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) will sail today from the port of Malaga aboard the Emma Bardán vessel, belonging to the General Secretariat of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), with the aim of capturing sardine larvae and eggs (Sardina pilcharus), hake (Merluccius merluccius) and balckspot sea bream (Pagellus bogaraveo) north and south of both sides of the Strait to study the connectivity of populations of these species and define their stocks with scientific criteria and contribute to a more sustainable exploitation.
In addition, at each point of study the physicochemical characteristics of the water that will relate the marine dynamics to the distribution of the larvae and eggs of the target species on both sides of the Strait will be analyzed, integrating information from the European and African margins.
The scientists will sample about 100 stations spread across the Spanish and Moroccan coast on both sides of the Strait between 30 and 500 meters deep. To do this, they will use different types of nets for sampling larvae and eggs and a rosette of oceanographic bottles with CTD to measure physical-chemical parameters with which water samples will be obtained. The survey will end on March 15 in Malaga and the processing and analysis of the samples will be carried out in land-based laboratories.
Samples of sardine larvae (Sardina pilcharus). Photo: José Quintanilla / IEO
“The main objective of the survey is to describe the spatial structure of the ichthyoplankton community with special attention to the sardine, European hake and blackspot sea bream populations in the most precise way to help identify the most appropriate stock units for evaluation and management,” highlights Raúl Laiz, researcher at the IEO Malaga Oceanographic Center and head of the research study.
This expedition is part of the TRANSBORAN project “Transboundary population structure of Sardine, European hake and blackspot sea bream in the Alboran Sea and adjacent waters: a multidisciplinary approach”, co-financed by FAO through the COPEMED II Fisheries Cooperation Project and the Commission General Fisheries of the Mediterranean (CGPM) as well as by the IEO. Participants in the project include the IEO oceanographic centers of Málaga, Baleares, Vigo, Santander and Gijón, the Universities of Málaga, La Sapienza and Bologna, the Institut National de Recherche Halieutique (INRH, Morocco), the National Center of Recherche et de Développement de the Pêche et l'Aquaculture (CNRDPA, Algeria) and the Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM, Tunisia). The project, which began in early 2018 and will develop its activities until the end of 2020, has as its main objective to investigate the spatial structure of sardine, hake and blackspot sea bream populations in the Alboran Sea and geographically delimit the stock units from an approach multidisciplinary The result of the project will reveal whether the current limits of the management units are the appropriate spatial scale for the evaluation and management of these species.
Twin nets for sampling larvae and fish eggs. Photo: IEO
"The efficient management of cross-border stocks requires scientific collaboration between institutions from different countries that address connectivity processes in an integrated manner," said Manuel Hidalgo, a researcher at the IEO Oceanographic Center of the Balearic Islands  and project coordinator.


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