Project Details


Mesopelagic organisms live at depths between 200 and 1000 m. The mesopelagic community is the subject for research in the new EU-H2020 research project MEESO which is funded for four years. The goal is to fill in major knowledge gaps on these organisms and their role in and interactions with the full marine ecosystem.

The background to MEESO is the global human population growth causing increased demand for food, including marine proteins and lipids. Mesopelagic organisms represent the largest unexploited resource left in the world's oceans, with a recent biomass estimate of around 10 billion metric tons, 10 times larger than previous preliminary estimates.

Nevertheless, our knowledge of the mesopelagic community in terms of biodiversity, the drivers of its biomass, its role in carbon sequestration, and its interactions with the epipelagic community, including commercial fish stocks, has major gaps. The main reason for these knowledge gaps is the lack of methods to observe and sample the relatively small organisms living at depths between 200 and 1000m.

MEESO will determine the potential of sustainably exploiting the mesopelagic biomass for products included in the human food chain. It is important to assess the long term sustainability of potential extensive exploitation at an early stage to develop appropriate management measures.

MEESO’s implementation of new acoustic and trawling research survey technologies will provide novel estimates of the abundance and spatial distribution of key species, and provide insight into the structure and functioning of this largely unknown part of the marine ecosystems.

Development of new fishing and processing technologies and mapping of contaminant and nutrient content of key species will be used to explore the basis for a viable fishery. New tools for assessment and management will be established. The trade-offs between exploitation and changes in ecosystem service values such as biodiversity and carbon sequestration will be assessed, while identifying options for governance.

National Institute of Aquatic Resources, DTU Aqua
Institute of Marine Research, Norway (coordinator)
Marine Institute, Ireland
Sintef Ocean AS, Norway
Fundacion AZTI - AZTI Fundazioa, Spain
Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Iceland
Wageningen University, Netherlands
University of Strathclyde, UK
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
Liegruppen Fiskeri AS, Norway
World Maritime University, Sweden
Collecte Localisation Satellites SA, France
IMAR - Instituto Do Mar, Portugal
Nofima AS, Norway
Teagasc - Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland
Pelagia AS, Norway
Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Ireland
National Oceanographic Center, UK

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 817669.

Research area: Fisheries Management
Research area: Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics
Research area: Marine Living Resources
Research area: Observation Technology
Effective start/end date01/09/201931/08/2023


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.