In the past months, a team of experts and students from DTU Aqua (Denmark), the University of Kiel (Germany), Groningen University (Netherlands) and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) worked on the reconstruction of the historical fish assemblage of the Wadden Sea in the project "Systematic review for historical reconstruction of the Wadden Sea fish assemblage – Swimway historical reference" (SHIRE), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). On 6 September 2022, the group came together at the Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fishery Sciences (IMF) in Hamburg, Germany, to discuss results of the study.
The results give a glimpse into the occurrence of fish species from as far back as 1500, when many of the records were from fishermen and fisheries statistics. Through the data extraction the historical occurrence of 144 fish species was established, with observed abundances for many of the species.
"This project was a first step to accessing historical data and has already shown some promising results as far as identifying potential shifts in the fish assemblage of the Wadden Sea", says Paddy Walker, project management of SHIRE. "Moreover, the systematic review has succeeded in identifying a host of potential sources which could still be consulted for future work."
"The knowledge gained helps not only the implementation of the trilateral Wadden Sea Swimway Vision and Action programme, but may also serve as starting point for the integration of additional sources to complete the assessment, potentially within a larger project," adds Julia Busch, project lead from CWSS. Results are also of relevance for the work of the trilateral Expert Group Swimway (EG-Swimway).
The Trilateral Wadden Sea Swimway Vision Action Programme (2019 - 2024) describes actions suitable to improve knowledge on relevant processes, optimize population monitoring, adjust policies and develop, realise and evaluate measures towards reaching the Trilateral Fish Targets.