Shoal of Tuna in the Mediterranean Sea Guido Montaldo

We're working with 11 other partners on a major EU-funded project to learn more about fish behaviour.

Led by the University of Plymouth, FISH INTEL uses cutting edge technology to monitor key fish species and understand how they use different ecosystems within UK, French and Belgian seas. By tracking fish movements and studying their habitats, we hope to build a comprehensive picture that will inform commercial fishing policies and help marine life to thrive.

Which species will we monitor

Initially, the project will focus on the following commercially important species:

  • pollock (Pollachius pollachius)
  • bluefin tuna (Thunnus Thynnus)
  • bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)
  • crawfish (Palinurus elephas).

Researchers want to know more about species movement between coastal habitats, potential shallow-deep water movements and wider area movements between continents.

How does it work

Innovative acoustic tracking devices (pingers) will be attached to crawfish or inserted into fish. Listening devices will then record the 'pings' across different habitats including estuaries, mussel farms, shipwrecks, reefs, windfarms and marine protected areas. Underwater video surveys will also be carried out.

Pelagic or 'open-sea' species, such as bluefin tuna which are starting to appear in UK waters between July and September, require much wider international collaboration. These fish will be tagged using 'pop up archival tags' (PAT) and satellite tracking technology.

Principal investigator, Dr Emma Sheehan, explains some of these techniques in the video, below.

What does FISH INTEL aim to achieve

The 2-year project will give us an insight into which habitats individual fish species prefer, both within and outside of marine protected areas. We'll be looking at how fishing, climate change and other human activities (such as windfarms and mussel farms) are impacting on ecosystems within the Channel/Manche region.

The resulting data can then be shared with key stakeholders including fishers, regulators and policy-makers. We hope that our findings will lead to better cross-channel collaboration and improved marine management measures, such as recommended catch limits and seasonal restrictions.

Who else is involved

FISH INTEL is a €4 million Interreg project involving UK, Belgian and French academic institutes, fisheries government scientists (CEFAS in England, INFREMER in France) and regulators (Isles of Scilly Fisheries and Conservation Authority).

The project builds on work by the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth and is part of much longer-term research into commercial fish and shellfish habitats.

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