Mangrove-fishery link: how important are mangroves for the Atlantic seabob shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) in Suriname?

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Worldwide, shrimps are one of the most important fishery resources in economic value. They constitute around 18% of the world’s traded fishery exports. As such, tropical shrimp fisheries provide an important source of food and income for many people, particularly in developing countries. However, due to the destructive way of fishing (bottom-trawling), and the high quantities of bycatch, tropical shrimp fisheries are generally regarded as unsustainable. In order to preserve stocks and the ecosystems they reside in, shrimp stocks have to be exploited in a sustainable way. This insight has led the fishery for the Atlantic seabob shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) in Suriname (South America) to take measures to improve the fisheries’ sustainability. Thanks to these efforts, the industrial seabob fishery in Suriname has been granted with the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label for sustainable fisheries. Nevertheless, to come to an ecosystem-based fisheries management for the seabob fishery, important knowledge on habitat provision and habitat use by the seabob shrimp is missing. During this thesis, we will mainly investigate the importance of mangroves and adjacent shallow coastal mudflats as nursery or shelter area for the seabob shrimp and other commercial species (including fish). Therefore epi- and hyperbenthos will be collected in the mangroves by using fyke nets and in the adjacent shallow coastal zone by using a small hyperbenthic sledge deployed from a dinghy. All organisms will be identified, and spatial and temporal patterns of the epi- and hyperbenthic community will be analysed. Special attention will be given to the different ontogenetic stages of X. kroyeri but also other commercial species can be studied. Furthermore, a food web study focusing on the trophic position of X. kroyeri in the mangroves, and the nutritional contribution of these habitats to the diet of the seabob shrimp will be included. For the food web study, stable isotope analysis and fatty acid profiling will be used. Results of this thesis can guide management decisions to come to an ecosystem approach to fisheries, and will ultimately lead to a more sustainable use of marine resources in Suriname.
Fieldwork is an essential part of this thesis. Samples have to be collected in Suriname, and since there is no additional funding available for fieldwork, students will have to pay for flight and accommodation in Suriname (European students could apply for a VLIR-UOS travel grant Note that fieldwork conditions in the coastal region may be harsh, including working on a small boat and in moist and hot conditions.
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Prof Dr Marleen De Troch (Promotor; Ghent University, Marine Biology Research Group) Dr Annelies De Backer (Co-promotor; Instiute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO)) Prof Dr Jan Mol (Co-promotor; Anton de Kom University of Suriname)
Reference Number: RP-48921