The Catalan Network for Marking and Monitoring Aquatic Fauna

28 February 2024 Sustainability

The Catalan Tracking Network,  driven by the University of Barcelona and the Generalitat de Catalunya, aims to generate scientific knowledge for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of the marine coastline of Catalonia.

This ecosystem, crucial for the biodiversity of the Mediterranean, presents a wide variety of habitats and species with heritage and economic value. Despite existing regulations such as marine reserves, there are signs of overfishing in exploited species.

This is due to a lack of knowledge about the movements and marine connectivity of the species. For this reason, in recent decades, new techniques of marking and recapture, as well as acoustic telemetry, have been developed and perfected, as seen in this latest scientific initiative: The Catalan Tracking Network.


How is the movement of species studied with the Catalan Tracking Network?


The Catalan Tracking Network employs two collaborative methodologies: acoustic telemetry and a marking and recapture program.

The technique of acoustic telemetry involves the use of acoustic transmitters implanted in animals that emit coded signals. These signals are recorded by a network of hydrophones (acoustic receivers) installed on the seabed, allowing the reconstruction of the movement and trajectory of the marked individuals.

Simultaneously, the marking and recapture program consists of capturing and marking individuals with external identifying tags (T-tags), releasing them, and then recapturing them with the collection of biotic data, position, and capture date. In this way, the population size is estimated, the growth and migrations of species are determined, parameters for developing models of population dynamics exploited by fishing. This contributes to understanding the role of fishing mortality in population stability, essential for scientific fisheries advice.


Phases of the Catalan Tracking Network


The Catalan Tracking Network is a collaborative project designed to engage various groups and institutions interested in the marine coastline of Catalonia. It is open-ended and unlimited in time but is divided into several phases with specific objectives:

1) Installation of the fixed network of receptors: The basic hydrophone network will be installed at strategic points along the Catalan coast to detect the movement of marked marine species.

2) Operation of the mobile network of receptors: Fishermen are encouraged to participate by inserting receptor hydrophones into their fishing gear to expand the coverage of the fixed network. Other groups such as sports fishermen, dive centers, and sailors can also collaborate in this phase.

3) Marking with acoustic transmitters: The marking of individuals with acoustic transmitters is proposed, with the collaboration of professional and sports fishermen in the capture and marking of specimens.

4) Marking and recapture program: A permanent marking and recapture program is established with the active participation of fishing entities and associations. The data will be centralized in a public database accessible through the project’s website.

5) Coordination: The project is coordinated by the Consolidated Research Group MEDRECOVER, with Dr. Bernat Hereu as the scientific coordinator. It also has the support of the Department of Climate Action, as well as other entities and associations related to responsible fishing.

Additionally, the coordination with other projects and networks at national and international levels, such as the Balearic Tracking Network, CNRS/UPVD, IFREMER/MARBEC, European Tracking Network, and Ocean Tracking Network, is highlighted with the aim of creating synergies and sharing knowledge globally.


An open project for participation


The participation of different groups, including local and international scientific institutions, NGOs, public administrations, fishing associations, brotherhoods, universities, companies, and individuals, strengthens the collaborative dimension of this initiative.

Would you be interested in participating? Click on the following link to learn how to get involved: