Euro project goes fishing for clues

April 14, 1995

A European research project led by British scientists could help to determine the threat global warming poses to freshwater fish such as salmon and perch.

The danger to fish of climate change was highlighted last week at the international climate conference in Berlin, where an American researcher warned that salmon and trout could die out in parts of Europe because of global warming.

Environment Secretary John Gummer promised extra money for research into the effect of rising temperatures on British trout and salmon - work that scientists at the Natural Environment Council are proposing as part of the European Union's multi-billion pound Framework IV research initiative.

The scientists are bidding for money under Framework's agriculture and fisheries programme, FAIR. The project would link NERC scientists at the Institute of Freshwater Ecology with colleagues in Norway, Holland, Sweden and Spain.

Malcolm Elliott of IFE, coordinator of the project, says that a key objective of the programme is to develop fish growth models - based on water temperature, food consumption and fish size - that can predict changes in growth as a result of environmental change.

Dr Elliot said: "The models can then be used by those responsible for the conservation and management of economically important freshwater fish stocks throughout Europe."

While the impact of the global warming on agriculture and fisheries is an important component of the FAIR programme, Brussels is also planning to launch a ECU 480 million (Pounds 385 million) research programme on the environment and climate under Framework IV. The deadline for research proposals for the initiative is April and the work will embrace four themes.

The first, natural environment, environmental quality and global change, will attract ECU 230 million in funding. Projects will covers areas such as climate change, impact on natural resources amd atmospheric physics and chemistry.

Environmental technologies, the second theme, will deal with research into developing better environment monitoring technologies, protecting and rehabilitating the environment and methods of forecasting, preventing and reducing natural risks.

The third theme will focus on the use of satellite observation of the Earth for monitoring, warning and managing natural hazards. Space technology will also be used to assess the impact of industrial processes on the climate.

The human dimensions of environmental change will be covered by theme four.

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