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The Strategic Research Council financed project IMAGE is a strategic research alliance between central Danish and international fisheries and marine environment based university institutes.

Management of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is legally defined in a number of European directives. The current scientific basis for implementing the directives is limited by insufficient models, deficiencies in terms of uncertainties, local and regional aspects and lack of knowledge on the interplay between agriculture, fishery, environmental qualities in all surface waters, and economy.

The strategic alliance IMAGE focuses on integration between land use in drainage basins, transport of nutrients to water bodies, biogeochemistry in freshwater and in marine ecosystems, fishery models and economic models as a basis for further integrated management models.

The project integrates and trains new researchers and private and public end-users to develop and work with a number of empirical and dynamic models and management tools, further developed into integrated management models cross traditional media and science-based decision support systems, to strengthen national and international environmental management.

The project team includes a number of internationally well-recognized scientists and the involved institutions have a profound experience and significant international collaboration. The results lead to major scientific progress and have high impact in relation to end users and on implementation on national and international management strategies.

The results and research quality include analyses of novel processes and development of new and improved models, integrated prognoses and scenarios for the interplay between changes in the drainage basins and the ecological and economic consequences, a number of science-based decision support tools and a significant research education.

The IMAGE alliance is an interdisciplinary and international approach designed to establish a body of knowledge to develop tools, models, scenarios and predictions in order to integrate science and management from agriculture, fishery, aquatic environments and economy into a common platform. The overall is largely focused on linking the complex interplay between land use in the drainage basins, the transport of nutrients, biogeochemistry of freshwater and marine waters, integrated ecosystem and fishery models, cost-minimization models and ecosystem services assessments. This complex model framework can be used to assess effects of changing market conditions, changed agricultural and fishery support policies, as well as fulfillments of water related directives.

Specific objectives include: (i) identify key elements and reduce uncertainties in using complex models, (ii) design, develop and integrate important new concepts in the models, (iii) linking models and evaluate their ability to detect and follow changes in terrestrial environments into ecological and economic consequences, (iv) integrate and educate researchers and end-users, and (v) strengthen Danish research in linking science, modeling and management of the environment and economics and thereby consolidate a strong international position.

DTU Aqua research in IMAGE focuses on further development, implementation and validation of the dynamic multi-stock and multi-fleet fisheries simulation models and bio-economic management evaluation tools for fisheries systems (such as the Baltic FLR and IBM models) as well as higher trophic level ecosystem and food web models with focus on biological interactions in relation to fish (such as Baltic ATLANTIS, BALMAR, Ecopath w. Ecosim, and the SMS multi-species models). For all those models DTU Aqua has a dominating role in developing and implementing for the Baltic Sea fisheries and ecosystem.

The project has 12 project partners mainly from Danish universities (AU, DTU, KU, SDU) and national fisheries economics and fisheries research institutes (SMHI Sweden), but also from American, Swedish and Finnish universities as well as SMEs (e.g. DHI). The experts involved are environmental and fisheries ecologists, biologists and economists. The project is coordinated by Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University. DTU Aqua is main project developer, WP leader and member of the Steering Group (J. Rasmus Nielsen).


  • Research area: Fisheries Management
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