Exploitation of new underwater resources


There are many fish deep in the oceans, and these fish can be exploited to help feed the world’s growing population. This deep underwater area is called the mesopelagic zone. This zone begins where only 1% of light reaches and it ends where there is no light. The mesopelagic zone potentially contains several harvestable resources and it is estimated that this zone could hold a total fish biomass of approximately 2-19.5 gigatonnes. This number is about 100 times the annual catch of existing fisheries and these results can be found in the latest ICES Journal of Marine Science. The great number of mesopelagic species provides new opportunities for fisheries and for raw materials.

EUfishmeal is a partner of the MEESO project which aims to quantify the spatio-temporal distributions of biomass, production and ecosystem role of mesopelagic resources as well as to assess options to sustainably manage and govern their exploitation. According to ICES, it has for long been estimated that mesopelagic organisms such as fish and squid are potentially harvestable resources; however, there is a lack of knowledge on how to sustainably manage these mesopelagic resources. MEESO therefore needs to collect data in order to determine how the mesopelagic biomass can be sustainably exploited for products included in the human food chain.

Read more about the MEESO project here.

Read more about ICES’ description of opportunities and risks in the mesopelagic zone here.

Drawing by Bas Kohler found on ICES.