ICES Annual Science Conference 2018

Theme session A

Mesopelagic ecosystems: fish and invertebrate population biomass, biodiversity, and role in carbon flux

Monday, 24 September
Lecture Hall B

​​​​​​Today, more than 95% of the global food production comes from agriculture. However, available arable land is limited, and future needs put strong pressure on the world´s remaining rainforests and other natural environments. The sea supports at least 50% of primary bio-production, and in the future marine ecosystems, including the mesopelagic community, are expected to be under even stronger exploitation pressure.

The mesopelagic zone, from a 200 to 1000m depth, constitutes about 60% of the planet's surface, 20% of the ocean´s volume, and a large part of the total biosphere. The bulk of the world’s fish live there, by number as well as by biomass. It is, however, a zone of wide diversity, with crustaceans, jellyfishes and cephalopods. Recent studies indicate that the total amount of global mesopelagic fish biomass has been grossly underestimated, possibly by a factor of 10. The new assessment suggests a biomass in the order of 10,000 million tonnes, roughly equivalent to 100 times the approximately 100 million metric tonne annual catch of traditional fisheries.

Despite much knowledge on this region, a lot remains unknown, especially the role of the many macroplanktonic taxa in the sequestration of carbon in the deep sea.

In this session, the focus will be on new insights on mesopelagic taxonomy, abundance and biomass, trophic ecology, reproductive biology, and the major gaps that remain to be addressed in order to sustain this system in the face of climate change and resource exploitation.

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Webjø​rn Melle (Norway)
Antonina dos Santos (Portugal)
Peter. H. Wiebe (USA)
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Theme session A

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