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The circle of life of Atlantic cod (<i>Gadus morhua</i>) at a wind farm in the Belgian part of the North Sea: where ecology meets economy

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Slide 1 THE CIRCLE OF LIFE OF ATLANTIC COD ATA WIND FARM IN THE BELGIAN PART OF THE NORTH SEA: WHERE ECOLOGY MEETS ECONOMY M a r i n e B i o l o g y J Reubens/, S Degraer, 2 , M Vincx1 1 Ghent University, Biology Department, Marine Biology Section, Krijgslaan 281, Sterre S8 9000 Ghent, Belgium 2 KBIN-MUMM, Gulledelle 100,1200 Brussels, Belgium Cod at Windmill artificial reefs Study area & sampling design A substantial expansion of offshore wind farms in the North Sea has been planned, inducing a growing interest in the possible effects of these artificial habitats on the marine environment. Demersal fishes are likely to be affected by these changes in the environment. The offshore wind turbines may provide a suitable habitat for hard substrate dwelling fish since hard substrates, e.g. windmill artificial reefs (further referred to as WAR), have been reported to attract and concentrate fish and/or to enhance local fish stocks. Since 2009 the trophic ecology and community structure of Atlantic cod has been investigated at WAR on the Thorntonbank. In this study, the state of the art of ecological knowledge of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhuaL.) inhabiting WAR in the Belgian part of the North Sea after three years of environmental monitoring is given. The wind farm under consideration is located at a sandbank 27 km offshore the Belgian coast. The turbines in combination with the buffer (i.e. erosion protection layer) form the WAR, which has a diameter of 50 m. Several techniques were used to investigate the trophic ecology and community structure: (1) Standardized line fishing (hooks: Arca, size four; bait: Aren was performed to quantify the catch rates of Atlantic cod. 0 (2)A11 fish caught were measured to investigate Atlantic cod (Gadus morhuaL.) ^ J l g t h f r ^ U C n C y t r Í l > U t Í O n . (3) Aniacoustic telemetry study was set up to investigate residency and seasonal migration of Atlantic cod. 19 specimens were tagged and ti acked with Vemco VR2W recei

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