Big changes in who-eats-who in the North Sea Published: 04 July, 2005
A SCIENTIFIC study conducted by Professor Mike Heath of the Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen has found that there have been dramatic changes in the feeding patterns of fish in the North Sea over the last 30 years. These have been caused by both climate and fishing.
Predatory fish numbers have declined meaning that the plankton-eating fish and seabed animals normally eaten by these predators have had the burden of predation lifted from them. Despite this, plankton-eating fish numbers have not increased, probably because of growing populations of seabirds and marine mammals.
Meanwhile shrimp and prawn landings have increased over the past 20 years.
Professor Heath said: “The results show that all sectors of the fishery are inter-connected by the food web, and none can be considered in isolation. This is one of the primary motivations for developing a more ecosystem-based approach to management measures for fisheries in which the system is managed as a whole, with one of the objectives being to establish an ecological balance between the pelagic, demersal and shellfish sectors.”
The scientific paper reporting the results of the investigation will be published in the August issue of the ICES Journal of Marine Science.
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