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EAF-Nansen Programme

Survey in the SEAFO area

25/02/2019

As part of the 2019 work plan of the EAF-Nansen Programme, a survey was organized from 24 January to 25 February in the Convention Area of the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO), to further enhance the understanding of Southeast Atlantic ecosystems as decided in 2015.

In 2015, a similar survey was conducted when the Research Vessel (R/V) Dr Fridtjof Nansen mapped bathymetry, benthic invertebrates regarded as indicators of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) and target fisheries resources. The one-month cruise greatly assisted the Scientific Committee of SEAFO in understanding the qualities of the Convention Area and several of the seamounts that are considered actual or potential fishing areas. Within six months after the cruise, the Committee provided concrete advice to the Commission resulting in management actions and evaluation of appropriateness of existing conservation measures. A valuable collection of biological specimens is curated in the Iziko Museum in South Africa, now being a source for further studies of taxonomy and systematics. Two general scientific papers are being published from these studies, and others on particular taxa are forthcoming.

Furthermore in 2015, the SEAFO Scientific Committee expressed appreciation of the efforts of the 2015 cruise, but priorities for new cruises were also formulated, should opportunities arise. These priorities were at a later stage conveyed to the FAO and the EAF-Nansen Programme. In an effort to strengthen the scientific basis of current and future management actions by SEAFO, the EAF-Nansen confirmed that an additional cruise to priority sub-areas should be planned for 2019.

The overriding goal of the 2019 cruise was to further develop the databases and collections to benefit regional science and enhance the global understanding of the Southeast Atlantic ecosystems. More concrete objectives were, as in 2015, to analyse occurrence and abundance of benthopelagic fish and sessile epibenthos, including indicators of VMEs, in selected 'existing fishing areas' and areas closed to fishing within the SEAFO Convention Area. A particular effort was made to sample target fish resources to obtain more biological data, including tissue samples for genetic studies.

In addition to further mapping of VME taxa and fisheries resources - utilizing the enhanced capabilities of the new vessel - en route recording of mesopelagics, seabirds, and mammals, as well as the standard EAF-Nansen sampling regional biological and chemical oceanographic data, microplastics and litter etc. were performed.

Thirteen scientists from Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Spain and Brazil participated in the survey.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Catches ( (cephalopods, salps, ++). No Patagonian Toothfish and
Orange Roughy © FAO
High biodiversity; >60 fish species per catch © FAO