The principal aim of QBEX is to quantify the extent to which ‘spill-over’ of bio-resource abundance (fish and invertebrate species) enhances adjacent areas as a consequence of fishing exclusions within and around Marine Renewable Energy Installations (MREIs). The focus is to use novel technologies for determining the spatial movements of fish and shellfish across a wide-range of spatio-temporal scales (spanning metres to 100s of kilometres, and minutes to years). Space use will be related quantitatively to the changing physical and biological environment and will inform an understanding of the effects of fish spatial dynamics on field monitoring-derived estimates of abundance of fish and macro invertebrates comprising the community assemblage found within and adjacent to MREI sites. The social and economic costs of MREIs on fisheries will also be assessed, which together with the novel combination of tracking technologies and environmental sampling will allow the first test of the importance of potential spill-over to regions adjacent to MREIs.
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Location of Research
The United Kingdom.
- To quantify the spatio-temporal change in distribution and abundance of commercial species (e.g. thornback (Raja clavata) and blonde ray (Raja brachyura), and edible crab using novel methodologies, and in relation to environment (waves, current, noise mapping) and potential predators (seabirds and marine mammals);
- To determine and value any spill-over effect of bio-resource abundance from Marine Renewable sites to adjacent areas; and
- To identify the extent to which changes represent spatial re-distribution or increased abundance, and role of within-species size interactions.
The objectives and outputs of this project are being met through the execution of 5 modules by the various project partners:
Module 1: Animal Movements (MBA, CEFAS, Exeter)- Module 1 aims to collect data from deployed arrays and tags and use the recorded data to quantify individual spatial movements and distribution. 240 data/acoustic tags deployed at Wave Hub and in the Irish Sea. Data collection has resulted in 31 DSTs being recovered. Track reconstructions and spatial analysis is underway.
Module 2: Animal Distribution and Abundance (Exeter, MBA, CEFAS, ICIT)- Relative abundance of animals in test and control areas are being quantified using a novel combination of methods (baited traps; towed and drop-down video cameras; C-PODS; visual surveys) that have been running since 2008. Communities of mobile macro benthic invertebrates, fish, seabirds and marine mammals are being sampled. In 2014 acoustic surveys for pelagic fish have taken place.
Module 3: Integration of Animal Movements with Physical Characterisation (MBA,CEFAS, Plymouth, ICIT)- Under this module QBEX has developed novel statistical methods employing network theory to test for spatial changes and habitat/environment associations (see publications section). Random walk modelling and spatial overlap estimates of fish movements and fishing vessels are underway.
Module 4: Estimating ‘Spillover’ From Spatial Dynamics and Abundance and its Effects on Fisheries (MBA, EXETER, CEFAS, ICIT)- This module uses the knowledge gained in the previous three modules to estimate spillover. Modelling mobile fish distributions and effects of fishing and area closures is under way.
Module 5: Determining the Social and Economic Costs and Benefits of ‘Spillover’ from MREIs to Inform Marine Spatial Planning Decisions (PML)- Fishing Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data and associated catch data over period 6-year period (2007 to 2012) spanning the deployment of special marks defining the working area of WaveHub and the development of the Gwynt-Y-Mor wind farm have been collected.
Findings to date are that authors demonstrated how well-established network analysis techniques can be manipulated to explore electronic tag movement data and used actual acoustic data to discuss the considerations required to clean and filter the data into a biologically meaningful format.
- Jacoby, D.M.P., Brooks, E.J., Croft, D.P., Sims, D.W. (2012) Developing a deeper understanding of animal movements and spatial dynamics through novel application of network analyses. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3, 574-583.
- Holland, R.; Scott, K.; Hinton, E.; Austen, M.; Barrett, J.; Beaumont, N.; Blaber-Wegg, T.; Brown, G.; Carter-Silk, E.; Cazenave, P.; Eigenbrod, F.; Hiscock, K.; Hooper, T.; Lovett, A.; Papathanasopoulou, E.; Smith, P.; Thomas, A.; Tickner, R.; Torres, R.; Taylor, G. (2016). Bridging the gap between energy and the environment. Energy Policy, 92, 181-189.
- Hooper T (2017) Recreational use of offshore wind farm: Experiences and opinions of sea anglers in the UK. Marine Policy