crawfish12 acoustic receivers off the island of St Martin’s are tracking crawfish. Photo: University of Plymouth

Researchers are using tracking devices off the UK coastline to monitor an endangered marine species.

Scientists from the University of Plymouth worked with the Isles of Scilly Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IoS IFCA) to deploy 12 acoustic receivers off the island of St Martin’s to monitor the movements of the crawfish and the habitats it prefers to use.

Dr Thomas Stamp, post doctoral research associate at the University of Plymouth and co-lead for the survey work, said: “This endangered species provides a critical income to small scale fishing communities, and therefore we really need to understand where they go and what they’re doing before appropriate fisheries management policies can be developed.”

Research key for survival

The Isles of Scilly and sites in northern France, off the coast of Brittany (Iroise Sea) and Côtes-d’Armor (Saint Brieuc and Sept-Iles marine park), are some of the last strongholds for the crawfish, where they are also important for small scale coastal fisheries, so information on how they move and behave is critical to ensuring their long-term survival.

One of the crawfish has already been spotted 200m from where it was released, giving an early indication of how these animals travel around and make use of their habitat.

The deployment is part of FISH INTEL, a €4.1m project led by the University of Plymouth, and supported by €2.8m from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France Channel England (FCE) programme.

Additional sites will also be set up in northern France by one of the project partners and information will be freely shared between the sites.

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