Understanding human-induced trophic cascades in coastal ecosystems (CASCADES)

Funding agency: The Research Council of Norway, Oceans Program, Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal
Project period: 2023-2027
Project leader: Arild Landa (NINA)
Work package 1 – Ecological impacts of fishing pressure, participants: Kim Halvorsen, Anne Berit Skiftesvik, Marthe Ruud, Tore Strohmeier, Øystein Varpe (UiB), Steven Guidos (NINA)

Project summary

CASCADES seeks to further our understanding of how current fisheries for wrasse, which are essential for de-lousing farmed salmon in the Norwegian aquaculture industry, impacts the stability and long-term health of our coastal marine food webs in western Norway. Specifically, we aim to determine what cascading effects the wrasse fishery has on other important marine species groups like shellfish and gadoids, as well as the wrasses themselves. The project aims to discover what the cascading impacts of this fishery are on a more holistic perspective by studying diet composition of semi-aquatic predators between areas of intense fishing activity and marine protected areas. This will allow us to gauge how entire food webs are impacted by fishing activities related to aquaculture, and even gather information on cascading effects outside of the marine environment. CASCADES will also define to what extent past industries – specifically mink (Neovison vison) farming continues to impact coastal ecosystems throughout Norway and Europe. The project will focus specifically on the invasive mink’s relationship with vulnerable seabirds and its main native competitor, the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). CASCADES is expected to provide significant new insight into what the long-term ecological consequences of human activity in the coastal environment will be in a broad perspective.