SLR's Senior Aquatic Ecologist, Steve Coates will be presenting a paper at the 45th Institute of Fisheries Management Annual Conference on 7-9 October at the Maritime Museum, Liverpool. Entitled 'Transitional waters fish monitoring', Steve will explore some complex issues and advise on best practice.
Estuaries are distinct surface waters and are termed ‘transitional waters’ under Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament. This directive is commonly referred to as ‘Water Framework Directive’ or WFD and transitional waters are distinct surface water-bodies which have been characterised across Europe. The WFD requires that each EU Member State establish a biological monitoring programme within all surface water-bodies and fish communities are a key ‘biological quality element’ within the assessment of WFD status (Birk et al 2012).
Within the UK the dynamic tidal nature of transitional waters has led to a suite of bespoke fish monitoring methods being developed (Elliott & Hemingway, 2002). This is in order to assess fish species composition & abundance, with particular importance being placed upon those fish species that are sensitive to anthropogenic stress e.g. shad, lamprey, salmon, smelt and sturgeon.
In order to assess the diverse fish communities present throughout a transitional water (from freshwater tidal to sea) then a multiple method fish sampling programme was developed over a 5 year R&D Programme (2001 to 2006). This monitoring programme was not only developed to comply with the WFD ‘normative definitions’ but also assess transitional fish communities biannually during spring & autumn (Coates et al 2007).
The evidence base behind this multiple method bi-annual fish monitoring programme is long-established and has been developed from the Thames estuary fish sampling methodology which has been continuous since 1992 (Colclough et al 2002). By the year 2000 the EC Fair Programme ‘Commercial Fish and European Estuaries- Priorities for Management & Research’ had cited this pioneering work on the Thames estuary as ‘European Best Practice’.