What did the fish community in the Wadden Sea look like in historic times? What were drivers of change? These questions will be addressed in the project "Systematic review for historical reconstruction of the Wadden Sea fish assemblage – Swimway historical reference" (SHIRE), funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the Netherlands, conducted from January to July 2022. On 28 February 2022, a team of experts and students from DTU Aqua (Denmark), the University of Kiel (Germany), Groningen University (Netherlands) and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat held an online kick-off meeting for the project.
The overall aim of SHIRE is to reconstruct the historical fish assemblage of the Wadden Sea in order to support contemporary targets and future action for conservation and management. The project will serve as pre-study and template for the integration of additional sources to complete the assessment, potentially within a larger project. "Our knowledge of underwater biodiversity in the Wadden Sea is basically limited to the last 60 to 70 years. This is a period when large-scale changes had already taken place, the borders of the Wadden Sea were mostly static and dynamics were changed", says Dr Paddy Walker, project manager of SHIRE.
Dr Julia Busch, project lead from CWSS, adds: "Besides the knowledge gain on the fish community in former times which will serve to help the implementation of the Trilateral Swimway Vision and Action Programme, I am particularly glad to bringing together students from universities of all three countries." The Trilateral Wadden Sea Swimway Vision Action Programme (2019 - 2024) describes actions suitable to improve knowledge on relevant processes, optimize population monitoring, adjust policies and develop, realise and evaluate measures towards reaching the Trilateral Fish Targets.