Study on stomach content of fish to support the assessment of good environmental status of marine food webs and the prediction of MSY after stock restoration (Open call for tenders No MARE/2012/02) (39036)

Project Details


In support of policies for sustainable management strategies of living marine resources, demands for integrated ecosystem advice are growing and more extensive use of long-term management plans, which are consistent with the ecosystem approach to fisheries management, is anticipated. However, long-term management plan evaluations of fish are particularly sensitive to changes in the proportion of fish removed by natural predators (natural mortality). A prerequisite for estimating this correctly is accurate knowledge of species interactions: Who is eating whom when, where and in which quantity?

Existing stomach content data are currently used in multispecies models using historic stomach content data from before 1995. Since this period, there have been considerable changes in the predator and prey stocks of both the Baltic and the North Sea. Thus, updated information on stomach contents of the essential predators in these two areas is urgently needed.

In order to update and improve the quality and quantity of the available back ground data for the above mentioned multispecies models and management plans, the aim of this project is to
- conduct new stomach content analyses of Baltic cod to support our knowledge of the spatial and temporal stability of cod preferences
- conduct new stomach content analyses of Baltic whiting as well as grey gurnard, mackerel and hake collected in the North Sea to support our knowledge of potentially important predators for which the diet is presently poorly known or is expected to have changed significantly since the last sampling efforts
- compile historical data, which are existing in several institutes around the Baltic and North Sea, and convert them from paper or outdated electronic format into the necessary standard format
- incorporate the new as well as all appropriate historical stomach content information into the Baltic and North Sea stomach content databases

The end product will be updated stomach content databases for the Baltic and North Sea, which include all available information up to 2013. In the Baltic, the project will increase the number of stomachs available for modeling by more than 170%. In the North Sea, the project will increase the number of years where data are available for grey gurnard from 2 to 8, for mackerel from 2 to 6 and for hake from 0 to 1, hence substantially increasing the confidence in the temporal stability of the modeling results.

The databases will be made freely available to the scientific community and will form the basis for new estimates of natural mortality and improved long-term management plans in the Baltic and North Sea.

The project is coordinated by DTU Aqua.

Research area: Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics
Effective start/end date27/11/201227/11/2014

Collaborative partners

  • Technical University of Denmark (lead)
  • Lund University (Project partner)
  • Wageningen University & Research (Project partner)
  • National Marine Fisheries Research Institute (Project partner)
  • Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute (Project partner)
  • Institute of Food Safety Animal Health and Environment (Project partner)
  • University of Hamburg (Project partner)
  • Cefas Weymouth Laboratory (Project partner)


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