The aim of this project is the development of non- invasive monitoring methods to investigate the abundances and species compositions of fish and invertebrate communities, as well as the sessile epifaunal communities in the Natura 2000 areas around the Sylter Outer Reef, Borkum Reef Ground and Doggerbank. Moreover, it will be recorded how these abundances and species compositions will change when the Natura 2000 areas will be excluded from mobile bottom-contact fisheries. These newly developed or adapted methods will complement traditional monitoring methods to identify changes in the benthic communities in response to established no- fishing zones.
We will use Baited Remote Underwater Videostations (BRUVs) with a stereo video set up to study the fish and invertebrate communities. Stereo BRUVS are not only able to record species abundances, but also to determine individual sizes as well as their biomasses. In addition, we will conduct video transects via scuba diving to assess the sessile epifaunal communities and how these will recover after banning bottom trawling activities. Moreover, we will deploy Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS). These standardized 3D structures mimic the complex structure of sea bottom habitats and will be used to evaluate how cryptic reef communities respond to the different management practices.