Research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen takes off to study marine life in the waters of Cabo Verde


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The research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen from the EAF-Nansen program, has just taken off for another month-long research expedition, this time around the Cabo Verde islands. On board are a team of scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Institute of the Sea (IMar) in Cabo Verde, and two guest experts – one from the Spanish Institute of oceanography (IEO) and the other from Côte d ‘Ivoirien. The expedition crew departed on Friday, November 19 from Las Palmas, Spain, to study the marine life and environmental conditions of the waters of Cabo Verde – an area of ​​particular interest due to the environmental conditions and currents originating from three different directions.

The survey is taking place in collaboration with the government of Cape Verde, covering shallow water from 20 meters to 1000 meters below sea level. The main objective of the expedition is to conduct an abundance assessment and the distribution of pelagic and demersal resources present in these parts of the ocean.

During this stage, the areas of the islands belonging to the eastern part of Cape Verde (i.e. São Tiago, Maio, Boa Vista, Fogo) and the areas to the northwest of the archipelago (c ‘ ie 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 take samples from various commercial fish that will be further analyzed at the IMR laboratory in Bergen to examine the nutritional value and potential chemical contaminants in fish tissue. The objectives of this survey correspond to 10 of the 11 themes of the Scientific plan of the EAF-Nansen program, which guides the research activities of the Program.

As part of the capacity building efforts – a central objective of the EAF-Nansen program – local scientists in Cabo Verde will receive training in data collection, sampling procedures and species identification by an expert in taxonomy from Spain and Norwegian colleagues. Specialized scientific equipment will be used to ensure a better understanding of the areas studied and to collect data to supplement existing knowledge on the diverse ecosystem that this area represents.

“There are information gaps that must be filled in order for Cabo Verde to be able to make informed management decisions and achieve sustainable and optimal use of its marine resources. One way to fill these gaps is international cooperation – especially since there are limits in terms of human, financial and technical resources available in our country – and this is why the partnership with the EAF-Nansen program is essential. ‘of utmost importance to us,’ explains Mr. Vito Ramos, the coordinator of the oceanography department at IMar in Cabo Verde and the cruise co-leader of this expedition.

This expedition is the third scientific study in the waters of Cabo Verde by Dr Fridtjof Nansen since the start of the EAF-Nansen program in 1974. During previous surveys in the region, the vessel collected data on the biomass of the fish around the island. The results of the two previous campaigns in Cabo Verde showed a considerable decline in pelagic and demersal species, between 1981 and 2011. It will therefore be very interesting to compare the results of the current campaign with the two previous ones.

“Fishing in Cabo Verde has a significant social and economic impact on people’s livelihoods. Not only does the industry provide employment opportunities for a large part of the population, but it also contributes to food security since fish is the main source of animal protein for most of the inhabitants of the islands ”, explains Kathrine Michalsen, survey coordinator at IMR and survey cruise line Cabo Verde. “The sustainable management of fisheries depends on a good knowledge of fish stocks, what fish eat, when they reproduce and the environmental conditions they face, and it is therefore important that we conduct expeditions of research to collect information and enable science-based decision making, ”says Michalsen.

The Cabo Verde expedition is Dr Fridtjof Nansen’s second and final marine research in 2021, but preparations for the 2022 campaigns are already underway. The first stage is planned for January / February, in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) within the area of ​​the Fisheries Committee for the Central-East Atlantic (CECAF). During this research, priority will be given to studying the rise of Sierra Leone, as the previously planned survey in that region was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

© Press release 2021

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