Long-term trends in relative abundance of commercial species in the Coastal waters, in Belgian sea fisheries

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
1. Introduction and broader context of the thesis The project ‘A Century of sea fisheries’ is an on-going effort to collect historical data and information on sea fisheries from dispersed, fragmented sources In Belgium. Composition and value of landings by the Belgian fleet were digitized, standardized, quality controlled and integrated. The resulting database covers the period 1929 until present by species, by port of landing, and by fishing area of origin. Older data is also available on a fragmentary basis. Additional monthly distribution of landings for all species, and monthly landings by length class for the most important commercial species, were added covering 1929-1933 and 1947-1967. It is the only source of historical information on landings originating from Belgium’s coastal waters. Economic information (value of landings) and fishing effort-related data is also collected and standardized, including information on the effort of the coastal fleet. The database broadens the historical view on fisheries, underlines the decline in landings since reporting started, and serves as a basis for further (fisheries) research and policy-making in Belgium. The website promotes a better understanding of the history of Sea Fisheries in Belgium to the interested public. http://www.vliz.be/cijfers_beleid/zeevisserij/index.php/ 2. Thesis Subject Close to 73% of all landed species originated from five fishing areas: Coastal waters, North Sea (south), Iceland Sea and North Sea (central-east and central-west). The data underlined the importance of the Coastal waters: 20% of all landed species originated from the coastal shallow waters. The North Sea (south) and the Iceland Sea followed closely with 17% and 16%, respectively. Compared to the vast extension of the central North Sea, the coastal waters were an important source of fish products throughout the time span 1929–1999, and in spite of their limited extent contributed nearly 60% of all landed pelagic species and 55% of all landed ‘molluscs and crustaceans’ reported in this period. Objectives - Assess long-term trends in landings of commercial species (demersal, pelagic and molluscs and crustaceans) in coastal waters. The subject includes: - Acquaintance with basic data management procedures (digitization, standardization, quality control, integration) - Descriptive statistics: long-term trends by species, by length class (for a subset of 7 species), in seasonal distribution of landings, .. (describe observed changes in terms of statistic descriptors) - Explore and assess relationships between observed changes and environmental, economic and effort-related data and information. - Development and application of indicators of environmental and climate change (Marine trophic index MTI, Temperature index,..) and models . The outcome of the thesis work will result in communication products (posted on the website) and policy-relevant products.
master education level, by preference in biology or ecology good knowledge of R and statistical analysis basics in data management
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Reference Number: RP-47961