Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 146

T
he world’s population is expected to continue increasing in
the years to come. It is thus of great concern that the
current global production of food cannot cope with this
predicted increase. Even though approximately half of biological
production takes place in the oceans, most of our food currently
originates from land-based farming. In the future, we need to
utilise more of our marine living resources in a sustainable
manner. This is one of the major issues the Hjort Centre for Marine
Ecosystem Dynamics will address. Put simply, the centre will
explore how a larger portion of our nutrients can be obtained
sustainably from the oceans. To answer this question, we need
more knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of the
complex marine ecosystems in our surrounding seas, as well as in
distant waters.
Global challenges, global solutions
The social mission is well defined, but no simple solution to these
challenges exists. The changes in the oceans are independent of
maritime borders. Fish and other marine organisms follow the
currents and migrate between different economic zones.
Biological, physical and chemical parameters interact in a varied
and complex interplay, while anthropogenic activities (fisheries,
aquaculture, climate change, industries and environmental
impacts) continuously influence the marine environment. No
single discipline, research community or nation can fully explain
the changes that are occurring in the oceans at present, nor can
they predict future changes and consequences. The Hjort centre
has established an extensive international network of
collaborators to compare different marine ecosystems and seeks
to find global solutions.
Where to fish and what to catch
We have two options when increasing the exploitation of marine
living resources: we can start to utilise organisms from lower
trophic levels, or we can better manage stocks that we are
currently harvesting. At lower trophic levels, we find mesopelagic
fish (small deep-water species such as pearlsides and spotted
lanternfish) and zooplankton. The biomass of such species is very
large and the nutrition value high. However, even though marine
resources from lower trophic levels could provide us with feed, oil
and a potential human food source, it is necessary to obtain
thorough knowledge of how marine ecosystems will respond to a
commercial exploitation of such species.
Protect existing marine resources
The present commercial fishery often includes top-predator
species, and to catch more than 100 billion tonnes of fish
annually is challenging for a sustainable management of these
resources. The Hjort Centre will implement new technology for
monitoring, evaluating and predicting the conditions of marine
ecosystems. This will aid in understanding and predicting the
observed variation in the occurrence of species like cod, herring
and others that are commercially important. More knowledge of
ecosystem dynamics will thus aid communication with, and
advising of, the fisheries. This will help to ensure efficient
management of existing fish stocks and, at the same time, secure
marine resources for future generations.
Consequences of climate change
It has become evident that the oceans are significantly affected
by anthropogenic activities. This naturally includes the harvesting
of marine resources, but it also comprises indirect influences
through global warming, ocean acidification and eutrophication.
The Hjort Centre will explore how climate changes affect marine
biota and will address three essential questions: 1) Do species
adapt by genetic adaptation or by changing habitat location?; 2)
How fast do the changes occur?; and 3) How will this affect how
humans administrate marine resources?
New technologies provide new opportunities
The ocean comprises the Earth’s largest biotope, covering 71% of
its surface area and with an average depth of 3,500m. The ocean,
with its complex physics and wealth of organisms, is highly
dynamic, covering processes with spatial scales ranging from
micrometres to basin scale, occurring over timescales from
seconds to centuries. The North Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean
are well-observed ocean areas but are still under-sampled with
respect to key ecosystem processes. Throughout the past 100
years, technological progress in the laboratory, mesocosms and
field has strongly improved our ability to picture and understand
central biological and oceanographic processes. This includes, for
example, recent major developments in genetic tools and in
acoustics (e.g. submerged echo-sounders).
Since the 1970s, remote-sensing satellite technology has also
given us a new and global view of the surface oceans. Over the
last decades numerical ocean modelling has provided novel tools
to understand and interpret key processes across spatial and
temporal scales and across trophic levels. However, there is still a
vast need for technological improvements to properly address key
questions in ecosystem processes and dynamics studies. The
Hjort Centre will advance marine research by continuously
exploring and adopting new technologies for monitoring, analysing
and predicting current and future states of marine ecosystems
Half of biological production is marine-based, but most of our food comes from
land-based farming.We need to sustainably utilise our marine living resources to
feed a growing population
Sustainable marine harvest
146
I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
P R O F I L E
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
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