Ifremer researchers track more than 300 fish, thanks to an acoustic telemetry network, to better understand marine habitats

Researchers track more than 300 fish, such as common sea bass above to better understand marine habitats. Photo: Ifremer/O.Dugornay

Better understand marine habitats: more than 300 fish tracked thanks to an acoustic telemetry network

As part of the European Fish Intel project bringing together French, English and Belgian teams, Ifremer has been carrying out sea bass, pollack and lobster tagging missions since May on the coasts of Brittany and Normandy with the support of local fishermen. 

Scientists and fishermen have also deployed, with the help of France Energies Marines, a network of 60 acoustic receivers to monitor the movements of these 3 important species and identify their preferred habitats. This new information will be useful to better manage human activities at sea such as fishing or the development of wind farms.

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Over the past ten years, acoustic telemetry has been increasingly used to better understand and better understand the relationships between fish and their environment.

“Thanks to the Fish Intel project, we will soon know how bass, pollack and lobsters use their habitats on both sides of the Channel, what are their living spaces, where they go to feed, grow and reproduce. , explains Mathieu Woillez, Ifremer researcher in fisheries within the newly created UMR Decod and co-pilot of the project. Thanks to these data, we will be able, for example, to better quantify the connectivity between the Iroise marine natural park and the Sept-Iles nature reserve and to know to what extent these species frequent marine renewable energy installations. So much information that will help improve the management of fish populations in the Channel”.

More than 300 fish monitored and soon 50 lobsters

Between the months of May and June 2022, Ifremer organized in collaboration with local fishermen, agents of the Sept-Iles nature reserve and fisheries committees, three tagging campaigns for pollack and European bass in the Côtes d’Armor, the Bay of Seine and the Iroise Sea. The scientists managed to tag 233 bass (106 at Perros-Guirec, 77 at St Vaast-la-Hougue and 50 at Ouessant) and 71 pollack (14 at Perros-Guirec, 1 at St Vaast-la-Hougue and 56 at Ushant).

Ifremer and France Energies Marines, with the collaboration of local fishermen and developers of offshore wind farms, have also deployed 52 acoustic receivers on the bottom in the Iroise Sea and in the Côtes d’Armor. In the Bay of Seine, 8 receivers have already been deployed by France Energies Marines and around ten others will soon be installed by Ifremer.

Tagging operations for 50 lobsters are underway around the island of Sein and Ouessant and the nature reserve of Sept-Iles. To date, 20 individuals have been tagged.

Each brand is unique and emits its own acoustic signal. It is these signals that the acoustic receivers register as soon as a tagged fish or lobster passes nearby.

“Acoustic telemetry has the advantage of continuously recording data on the presence of tagged fish and in particular measuring the temperature on the bottom,” points out Mathieu Woillez. By combining this information, we will not only be able to improve our fish trajectory reconstruction model but also understand the effects of the environment on individual movements, and ultimately on changes in population distribution”.

These markings are part of a broader acoustic telemetry network operated by all of Fish Intel’s partners, for which 242 receivers have been deployed in England and 75 in Belgium as part of the project and previous projects. To date, the English and Belgian teams have tagged 68 lobsters, 30 bluefin tunas, 196 sea bass, 64 gray sea bream and 10 pollack. The first results are expected in early 2023.

About. The “Fish Intel” research project began in 2021 and will continue until 2023. It is led by the University of Plymouth and brings together 12 English, French and Belgian partners, including on the French side, Ifremer, the of Western Brittany, France Energies Marines, the Departmental Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Farming in Finistère, the Regional Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Farming in Normandy and the League for the Protection of Birds (National Nature Reserve of the Seven Islands). It is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Interreg France (Channel) England programme. 

More details on the project website: https://fishintel.ifremer.fr/

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Researchers track more than 300 fish to better understand marine habitats

by editor time to read: 7 min