Kelp forest monitoring pilot study

The kelp forests have important ecological functions. Amongst other things, they serve as nursery environment for various fish species providing shelter and food availability. Commercially important fish species, such as cod and saithe, also use these kelp forests as nurseries.

The kelp forests are very understudied in the Faroe Islands and this lack of knowledge about their function and state in more detail makes it difficult to estimate and potentially mitigate the impact of human activity. Globally the marine ecosystems are challenged by the climate change and the marine environment in the Faroe Islands is highly affected by any potential changes in the Gulf Stream.

Establishing current state and function of the Faroe Islands kelp forests and establishing the possibility of monitoring this environment is highly desirable. In addition, human activity in the fjords, such as aquaculture farming and shipping traffic, could also potentially have an effect on the kelp forest. In order to have a possibility to estimate if such activity has a negative impact on the kelp forest and its inhabitants, monitoring needs to be implemented.

The objectives of this pilot study, is to get an initial insight into the Faroese kelp forest biodiversity and to establish which methods are best suited for biomonitoring. Methods tested include capture of fish with nets with various mesh sizes as well as with traps, camera for detecting fish, taking sea-weed transects for identification and biomass estimation, and eDNA analysis of fish, invertebrate and sea-weed biodiversity from water samples. Sampling will be performed in the undisturbed fjord of Kaldbak eight times through the spring/summer of 2022.

The project is a collaboration between Fiskaaling, Sp/F Tari and Faroe Marine Research Institute (FAMRI). Project manager is Sólvá Jacobsen from FAMRI. The project is supported by Fiskivinnuroyndir, which is a fund in the Ministry of Fisheries dedicated to support fisheries related experiments and research.

Duration of the project is from spring 2022 until fall 2023.

Contact: Ása Jacobsen, Researcher, PhD