MGF Baltic Sea

The project MGF Baltic Sea, together with MGF North Sea, is part of the Geman Marine Research Alliance (DAM; “Deutsche Allianz Meeresforschung“) pilot missions with the title: Exclusion of mobile bottom-contact fishing in marine protected areas of the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The abbreviation “MGF“ stands for the German expression “mobile grundberührende Fischerei“ which means “mobile bottom-contact fishing”.

Mobile bottom-contact fishing, like the use of beam trawls or bottom trawling nets, has a wide-ranging impact on marine ecosystems and especially on benthos communities and benthic sediments. Therefore, it is discussed to exclude this type of fishing from parts of the German and European Marine Protected Areas (MPA).

In the course of the DAM pilot missions the impact, which the exclusion of mobile bottom-contact fishing will have on the ecosystems of the MPAs, is investigated by means of a comprehensive and cooperative research approach. Our focus at the DZMB is on the investigation of the meiofauna organisms of the research areas. The term meiofauna denotes a group of benthic protozoic and metazoan organisms, which pass a sieve with 1 mm but retain in a sieve with 40 µm mesh-size. In all aquatic ecosystems meiofauna organisms play an important role in processing organic matter and as fundamental part of the food web.

The potential effect, the exclusion of mobile bottom-contact fishing might have on meiofauna organisms, will be studied in a dichotomous approach. First, we estimate meiofauna diversity by means of metabarcoding and second, we do a morphological and faunistic investigation of benthic copepods (mostly Harpacticoida), one of the dominant meiofaunal taxa in benthos samples.

Due to the fact that mobile bottom-contact fishing is not yet excluded from the MPAs we focus on the investigation of the current state of benthic habitats in the research areas as a reference for further investigations. This data is essential to assess potential effects of the exclusion.

There are 3 MPAs within the German EEZ of the Baltic Sea, Fehmarn Belt, “Kadetrinne” and Bay of Pomerania – “Rönnebank”, which together comprise about 55 % of the German EEZ area. In the scope of MGF Baltic Sea, three research areas were chosen, Fehmarn Belt, Odra Bank (situated in the Bay of Pomerania) and “Rönnebank”. In every research area we study sites within the MPA and reference sites outside of the MPA. Since the beginning of the project in March 2020 we performed two cruises with the research vessel ELISABETH MANN BORGESE, one in May and June 2020 to survey the Fehmarn Belt, a second in June 2021 which focused on the Odra Bank and geoacoustic investigation of the Fehmarn Belt. For the investigation of the meiofauna, sediment samples were taken using a Multicorer (MUC). To date the meiofauna samples are processed and analysed at our institute.


Project leader: Prof. Dr. Klaus Jürgens, Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde (IOW)

Financing: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Further informations:

Prof. Dr. Pedro Martínez Arbizu
Head of DZMB