Researching the Baltic Sea reefs during the LIFE REEF project, this summer the researchers not only obtained valuable data on the state of the habitats on the seabed, but also encountered very rare fish species.
A team of ichthyologists with a fishing vessel from the port of Ventspils went to Baltic Sea to study ichthyofauna in the exclusive economic zone of Latvia. For the research, they used various methods - hydroacoustic surveys, trawling in fish concentration areas, a "Nordic coastal" type net with different mesh sizes was set at sea, which ensures the harvesting of fish of different sizes and species. The researchers also captured ichthyoplankton and filmed the seabed.
"The material obtained still needs to be carefully processed, but the first data obtained on the species show that the methods used have been chosen correctly. A very interesting fish variety appears on the rocky shallower shoals, protected species, such as butterfish, long-spined bull-rout and halibut, "says Ivars Putnis, a representative of Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment "BIOR" (hereinafter - BIOR).
Before embarking on marine research, the expedition was carefully planned to survey all possible habitats and identify the necessary research stations to repeat the research in different seasons. Despite strong winds and adverse weather conditions, four specialists worked at sea for nine days. When the works were about halfway up, due to strong winds, the researchers even had to stop the research work to return to shore for a few days.

"This expedition turned out to be much heavier than we had expected. After picking up the nets, we read out the fish and carefully counted the catch and took measurements, followed by the preparation of the nets for the next act until it was time to put them back into the sea again. Removing butterfish from the mesh, it was a painful tamboring work on fingers" says representative from BIOR, Guntars Strods.

The project LIFE REEF or " Research of Marine Protected Habitats and Determination of the Necessary Protection Status in the Latvian Exclusive Economic Zone" is implemented by the Nature Protection Board as a leading partner in cooperation with the Food Safety, Animal Health and Environmental Research Institute "BIOR" and the Latvian Institute of Hydroecology. Its total budget is 4 million EUR, of which 60% is covered by the EU environment and climate action program LIFE, but 40% - by the Latvian Environmental Protection Fund and project partners.
During the LIFE REEF project, it is planned to map and study specially protected marine habitats of European Union importance in the Baltic Sea area in the area of ​​4,116 square kilometers of Sand Shoals in the Sea and Stone Shoals in the Sea.

The information reflects only the vision of the LIFE REEF project implementers. The European Commission's Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.