What’s in the Fridge? Species Composition and Abundance of Pelagic Fish Available to Top Predators in Northwest Greenland

What’s in the Fridge? Species Composition and Abundance of Pelagic Fish Available to Top Predators in Northwest Greenland

Caroline Bouchard

Fakultet / Forskningsinstitution:
Naturvidenskab / Grønlands Naturinstitut

What’s in the Fridge? Species Composition and Abundance of Pelagic Fish Available to Top Predators in Northwest Greenland 

Pelagic fish (polar cod, capelin and sandeel) represent a major food source for marine mammals, seabirds and commercial fish around Greenland. Changes in pelagic fish distribution and abundance could have dramatic impacts on marine ecosystems off West Greenland, and on services they provide to Greenlanders (e.g. fisheries, ecotourism, cultural identity). This three years project* will be based on acoustic data collected with the newly-installed scientific echosounder on R/V Sanna as well as pelagic trawls and larval fish sampling performed during GINR Greenland halibut surveys in Northwest Greenland. The main objectives are (1) to inventory the pelagic fish in Northwest Greenland; (2) to assess how climate change has affected pelagic fish assemblages relative to the last survey of the area in 2006 and (3) to understand how on-going changes will affect culturally and economically important marine species such as fish, birds and mammals. The main approach will be to link the distribution of pelagic fish species and their recruitment to environmental conditions, with an overarching goal of formulating possible future scenarios helping with designing sustainability and adaptation strategies, by modifying fisheries when resources availability change for example.
* Each year of the project can be considered an independent or stand-alone study.

Metoder for inklusion af samfundet og formidling overfor samfundet:
The dissemination and communication activities will target three key audiences: Greenland communities, the scientific community and fishery managers. For the first group, the objective will be to raise awareness of the fact that Arctic marine ecosystems provide invaluable services to Greenlanders, and different platforms will be used, for example Internet home page (natur.gl), social media (GCRC Twitter and Facebook page), local newspapers (sermitsiaq.ag) and public outreach events such as the Kulturnat, an annual public event held in Greenland.
The project will involve two master students recruited locally. A first master project, conducted in 2018-2019, will concern the zoogeography of pelagic fish in Northwest Greenland. A second student will work on polar cod recruitment off West Greenland. I will act as the co-supervisor of both master students; potential main supervisors include Assoc. Prof. Peter Grønkjær (Aarhus University), Prof. Torkel Gissel Nielsen (DTU-Aqua) and Dr. Peter Munk (senior researcher, DTU-Aqua). The student projects will form a solid base for two scientific publications in highly-ranked peer-reviewed journals.
As a first step towards routine assessment of pelagic resources in West Greenland, the project will be of high interest to the Department of Fish and Shellfish at GINR and to the Ministry of Fisheries and Hunting of the Government of Greenland. The project may also help in implementing ecosystem approach to fisheries management in Greenland by improving our ability to forecast the effects of environment variability and climate change on pelagic fish populations. Annual meetings with fishery managers in Greenland will be organised to present relevant findings of the project. The feedback received during these meetings will help to improve the project over its three years duration.

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