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Marine protected areas for the conservation of marine top predators

Activity Code: PEOPLE-2007-2-1.IEF
Coordinator:Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ


The state of the global oceans is rapidly deteriorating due to the effect of human activities, and the risk of extinction to marine species is far greater than previously thought. The main threat to the marine environment is posed by over-fishing, which has resulted, in many cases, in extinctions of both target and incidentally caught species, including marine top predators (e.g. large pelagic fish, turtles, cetaceans, and seabirds). Seabirds belonging to the order Procellariiformes are amongst the most pelagic of seabirds and occur in all of the world's oceans.

Although Procellariiformes face many threats at their breeding habitat, fishing activity is their main conservation problem since many thousands of birds are killed annually by longline fisheries and populations have shown marked declines over the last decades, especially in the Southern Ocean. The proposed research will develop effective conservation strategies for marine top predators, taking into account their spatiotemporal population dynamics as well as the dynamics of longline fisheries. Our modeling approach will be based on data from the Tracking Ocean Wanderers conservation initiative, which covers over 90% of all extant Procellariiformes tracking data.

The complexity of these challenges requires a multidisciplinary approach which integrates the most recent techniques of GIS-based habitat modeling, individual-based and spatially-explicit, pattern-oriented, population viability analyses and multi-criteria decision analysis, which will be develop in a world leading center of ecological modeling, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ. This combined approach will facilitate the identification of suitable habitat for the implementation of marine protected areas for the conservation of marine top predators in the Southern Ocean, as well as simulations performance in order to assess the effectiveness of different fishery management scenarios, which is impossible at sea.

Project Details:

Start Date: 01.05.2009
End Date: 30.04.2011
EU Contribution: 151,663 Euro
Total Costs: 151,663 Euro
Funding Scheme: Intra-European Fellowships (IEF)
Administrative Contact Person: Annette Schmidt, annette.schmidt@ufz.de
Scientific Contact:
Dr Maite Louzao, maite.louzao@ufz.de