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ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and Greenland halibut fisheries

Amount awarded: £49,948

This project aims to gather data on the distribution of a potential vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) in the deep-sea Davis Strait, in the Northwest Atlantic off the coast of West Greenland.

The project will use underwater cameras and review unwanted catch reports to help certified Greenland halibut fisheries better understand any impact trawling is having on this habitat. This follows on from ZSL’s previous Ocean Stewardship Funded project in 2020, that identified a similar candidate VME habitat in Toqqusaq Bank, helping certified fisheries to avoid these habitats and provide recommendations to the Greenland government on managing fishing impacts.

Vulnerable species research

In partnership with Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR), previous ZSL research has identified vulnerable species such as sea pens existing on the fringes of the existing certified halibut fishing operations in the Davis Strait, but a lack of knowledge is hampering evidence-based management.

Areas that contain high densities of sea pens are called sea pen fields. These are regionally rare habitats that are important to conserve as can be vulnerable to disturbance but currently afforded no protection by management measures.

This project, supported by an MSC Science and Research Fund will help the West Greenland offshore Greenland halibut and Doggerbank Seefischerei West Greenland halibut fisheries address outstanding conditions of certification, linked to better understanding their impact on deep-sea habitats. Conditions are improvements fisheries need to make to achieve global best practice across all MSC requirements in order to stay certified.

ZSL also plan to raise awareness of Greenland’s deep-sea habitat in the general public by profiling the project through a variety of platforms.

“The funding will allow us to take the first images from never-before-seen areas of Greenland’s deep-sea floor, which will help inform the sustainable management of the Greenland halibut fishery and ensure the protection of sensitive habitats.”

Dr Stephen Long, Postdoctoral Research Associate

ZSL Institute of Zoology

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