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The research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen takes off to study marine life in Cabo Verde waters

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The research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen takes off to study marine life in Cabo Verde waters

Fishing in Cape Verde has a great social and economic impact on people’s livelihoods

ROME, Italy, November 30, 2021 / APO Group / –

The EAF-Nansen Program research ship Dr. Fridtjof Nansen has just taken off for another month-long research expedition, this time around the Cape Verde Islands. On board there is a team of scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Institute of the Sea (IMar) in Cape Verde and two invited experts, one from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) and another from Côte d ‘Marfil. The expedition crew set sail on Friday, November 19 from Las Palmas, Spain, to study the marine life and environmental conditions of the waters of Cape Verde, an area that is particularly interesting due to the environmental conditions and currents coming from three different directions.

The survey is carried out in collaboration with the Government of Cape Verde and covers shallow waters from 20 meters to 1000 meters below sea level. The main objective of the expedition is to carry out an assessment of the abundance and distribution of the pelagic and demersal resources that occur in these parts of the ocean.

During this stretch, the areas of the islands that belong to the eastern part of Cape Verde (i.e. São Tiago, Maio, Boa Vista, Fogo) and the areas northwest of the archipelago (i.e. Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia and São Nicolau) will be surveyed. In addition, scientists will document the presence of microplastics and marine debris, and collect samples from different commercial fish that will be further analyzed at the IMR laboratory in Bergen to examine the nutritional value and possible chemical contaminants in the fish tissue. The objectives of this survey correspond to 10 of the 11 topics of the Scientific Plan of the EAF-Nansen Program, which guides the research activities of the Program.

As part of capacity building efforts, a central objective of the EAF-Nansen Program, local Cape Verdean scientists will receive training in data collection, sampling procedures and species identification from a taxonomy expert from Spain and Norwegian colleagues. Specialized scientific equipment will be used to ensure a better understanding of the surveyed areas and to collect data to complement the existing knowledge of the various ecosystems that this area represents.

“There are information gaps that must be filled so that Cape Verde can make informed management decisions and achieve optimal and sustainable use of its marine resources. One way to fill these gaps is through international cooperation – especially since there are limitations in terms of human, financial and technical resources available in our country – and that is why the association with the EAF-Nansen Program is of enormous importance to us ” , explains Mr. Vito Ramos, the coordinator of IMar’s Department of Oceanography in Cape Verde and the cruise co-leader of this expedition.

This expedition is the third scientific study in Cape Verde waters conducted by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen since the beginning of the EAF-Nansen Program in 1974. During previous surveys in the area, the ship collected data on the biomass of fish around the Island. The results of the two previous surveys in Cape Verde showed a considerable decrease in pelagic and demersal species, between 1981 and 2011. Therefore, it will be very interesting to compare the results of the current survey with the two previous ones.

“Fishing in Cape Verde has a great social and economic impact on people’s livelihoods. The industry not only offers employment opportunities for a large part of the population, but also contributes to food security, since fish is the main source of animal protein for most of the people who live on the islands, ”he says. Kathrine Michalsen, survey coordinator at IMR and cruise leader for the Cape Verde survey. “Sustainable management of fisheries depends on a good knowledge of fish populations, what fish eat, when they spawn and what environmental conditions they face, so it is important that we carry out research expeditions to gather information and allow the taking making decisions based on science, ”explains Ms Michalsen.

The Cape Verde expedition is the second and last marine research conducted by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen in 2021, but preparations for the 2022 surveys are already underway. The first stage is scheduled for January / February, in marine areas outside national jurisdiction (ABNJ) within the area of ​​the Eastern Central Atlantic Fisheries Committee (CECAF). During this investigation, priority will be given to the Sierra Leone Rise study, as the previously planned survey in this area was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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