Project DPLUS148 is signing off

Dr Jesse van der Grient

The DPLUS148, after two intense years, where much about the marine food web, physiology and potential climate change responses have been learned; is coming to an end. All experiments have run, all workshops held, all zooplankton surveys conducted, and the final reports are being written. Continue reading the update for the DPLUS148 project for the project’s final update.
At the signing off of the DPLUS148 project
This newsletter represents the last newsletter for the DPLUS148 project, which has focused on climate resilience in the Falkland Islands fisheries and marine ecosystem for the last two years. Before the start of this project, not much was known about potential climate change impacts in the Falklands marine environment, and now….. a little more is known! 
Through the synthesis of baseline information, physiological experimentation, and modelling efforts, a little more of the picture and potential risks is filled in, but we would not be scientists if we said we are done. Far from it! Many new questions have emerged that hopefully will be addressed in the future and which may be helpful to the Falklands management of its marine environment. For now, this post will outline the final efforts of the project, and it would not be the DPLUS148 if it did not start to enthuse about the zooplankton.

A shortcut to zooplankton
The last of the zooplankton surveys have been conducted, and the whole dataset covers 1.5 years’ worth of data and many surprises. While Rhian is still busy analysing the data, we can safely say that pretty much every time we went out was different than expected, even if we expected the unexpected. In our last few surveys, we saw a few cool siphonophores, although not as many arrowworms, and one very large kelp isopod that decided to try out being a zooplankton. The fish larvae are getting bigger, and are disappearing (aka growing up), meaning less time was spent on photographing these big boys. What stood out was the massive amounts of lobster krill present, especially in Port William, and it was perhaps not a surprise to see a southern right whale there too in the swarm.
Image left:  A wonderful team sorting through the lobster krill to find fish larvae
Image middle: A tiny siphonophore, looking like a thread, is making those on board very happy
Image right:  A large kelp isopod, the largest Jesse has ever seen, is released to swim another day
The shadow of the past
More work on the ecosystem model has been conducted, refining the model which will allow us to use future projections of ocean warming. For now, the model seems to be able to replicate historical trends of various species relatively well, but others not so. By changing the model somewhat, we can use more information which can improve the model fit, which is necessary to understand whether the predicted future changes are useful and informative, or not.

The last debate
We held a workshop on the 20th February, focusing on what attributes for ecosystem-based fisheries management are already present in the Falkland Islands. It proved to be a very interesting day, where the project manager (Jesse) gave a high-level overview of the work she has been doing over the last two years. This was followed by Dr Michael Harte (Oregon State University) leading a session on introducing ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) and its attributes that measures how EBFM is applied in a Nation. The workshop report is being finalised and will appear soon on the SAERI website (perhaps it is already there by the time this is published).
workshop participants listen to Dr Michael Harte as he discusses potential next steps in ecosystem-based fisheries management
In short, the Falkland Islands has many essential components for EBFM in place already, although there is some variation in how well it is considered and integrated in management and decision making. The attributes that show the highest level of integration are core attributes of EBFM, while those that have not been considered as well, or lack integration, are extended EBFM attributes, although the group indicated that these would be areas where they would like to see more work. This includes more work on trophic effects (effects that are transferred via food-web interactions), and the effect of environmental change, including climate change.
Farewell to…
All of the readers and people involved in this project, as well as anyone else who has supported this project in all the many ways it could be supported. To everyone, a big THANK YOU! I do have to give a special shoutout to the project partners, which made the last two years possible. So, thank you to FIFCA, FIG, FIFD, SMSG, OSU, and BAS for their continued support.
The project is funded by the UK Government through the Darwin Plus Fund
Darwin Plus Project DPLUS 148

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