Chasing Tuna: Using Nanopore sequencing of environmental DNA to assess fish biodiversity in the North Sea

The North Sea ecosystem is degraded. Compared to a century ago, the higher trophic levels are missing. Large predators such as bluefin tuna, halibut, sharks and rays used to be common, and are now rare or absent. Construction of many large offshore wind farms are planned in the North Sea. Wind farms will be closed for fishing, and can play a positive role in restoring the North Sea food web. Biodiversity monitoring in wind farms is essentials to measure their effects on the North Sea ecosystem.

We can evaluate vertebrate biodiversity through nanopore eDNA sequencing ‘in the field’ at the North Sea. This enables biodiversity assessment of a diversity of reef structures in the North Sea, supporting optimal design of artificial structures such as wind farm foundations and scour protection. When managed properly, these optimal designs can assist in recovery of the North Sea ecosystem.

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