Institute of

Sea Fisheries




Herwigstraße 31

27572 Bremerhaven

Telephone: +49 471 94460 101

Fax: +49 471 94460 199

 (c) Thünen-Institut

Sustainable exploitation of marine living resources

The shallow continental shelves represent only about eight percent of the total area of the oceans, but host some of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. 99 percent of current yields from marine fisheries originate from the narrow shelf areas, whereas the open ocean plays a central role in global climate as a CO2 sink and heat reservoir. Only if marine habitats are intact and the associated species communities are healthy, fish stocks can develop their full productivity and the ocean can maintain its role as one of the most important food sources for the growing world population.

Our research is interdisciplinary and solution-oriented. It combines scientific and social science approaches to achieve a system understanding of the oceans. Based on this, we advise policy-makers on the protection and sustainable use of marine living resources. In concrete terms, we are working on:

  • Advice on sustainable catch quotas and management of living marine Resources. This work is embedded in our international network and based upon unique series of long-term data that we collect across national boundaries with the aid of three federally owned, highly specialised fisheries research vessels, and catch records from commercial fisheries.
  • Impacts of fishing on living marine resources, marine ecosystems and integrity of seabed habitats.
  • A better understanding of the interactions between fisheries and other forms of marine exploitation such as renewable energy production, fossil fuel extraction, but also marine protected areas to preserve biodiversity. The aim is to develop solutions for integrated fisheries management that combines conservation and exploitation objectives providing optimal solutions for the coexistence of different forms of marine use.
  • Automated measurements and evaluation methods for monitoring marine resources and their environment. In combination with simulation models, these data help us to analyse changes in the marine environment and its impact on fish stocks and ecosystems in near real-time.
  • Solutions for sustainable fisheries that incorporate ecosystem considerations and that are economically and socially viable for fishermen.

Fields of Activity

Makrelen im Probenbehälter (©  Thünen-Institut/Birgit Suer)
Marine living resources
In the "Living Marine Resources" research unit we investigate the biological basis for successful fisheries management. When is a stock overfished? How much can be caught sustainably next year or in the long-term? What causes the decline of North Sea cod? These are just some of the questions we are working on in cooperation with our international network of partners. The basis for answering such questions is the data collection framework and model estimates on the state of fish stocks in the North Sea and the North-East Atlantic. Our aim is to provide high-quality scientific advice for the sustainable management of our marine resources using best available methods.
Fangzusammensetzung 2 m-Kurre (©  Thünen-Institut)
Marine ecosystems
How will our marine ecosystems look like in future? How will functions and ecosystem services be altered under climate change and simultaneous intensive human use?
 (©  Thünen-Institut)
Operational observation systems
Monitoring biotic and abiotic parameters of the marine environment is crucial for our understanding of marine ecosystems and how they are affected by humans. Parameters are measured at different scales and with different techniques. In addition to monitoring physical parameters such as temperature and salinity, modern, increasingly non-invasive and automated methods are used to record both physical and biological environmental parameters as well as to characterize the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of marine organisms - from plankton to top predators.
 (©  Thünen-Institut)
Marine spatial management
Fisheries, offshore renewables, marine conservation, shipping and science: More and more users are competing for the same space in coastal and offshore areas. How can we balance sustainable use of marine resources and the maintenance of ecosystem health?
 (©  Thünen-Institut/J. Ulleweit)
Economic analyses
The global demand for fish has been growing constantly for years. At the same time fisheries reach the limit of natural resource use.



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