A doctoral thesis of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) has shown that the sebadales of the Canarian waters act as a crucial ‘nursery’ for the phases of fry Y juveniles of various species of fish with fishing interest for fleet Canarian craft, finding food and shelter in front of predators of other species.
It is one of the main findings of the thesis made by the doctoral student of the ULPGC and researcher associated with the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA), Fernando Espino Rodríguez, whose reading was carried out last Friday, January 31, obtaining the highest mark of outstanding Cum Laude. The results of these investigations have also received the echo of seven scientific publications of international impact.
In the light of these results, it is demonstrated that the Canarian sebadales cover a great biodiversity of fish and that these refuge meadows contribute significantly to the secondary production and maintenance of stocks of species of fishing interest for the artisanal fishing of the islands .
These stocks of fish with commercial utility have a relatively high economic value compared to the values recorded in other areas of the planet. Fact that demonstrates the imperative need to develop adequate management and conservation of this ecosystem in the Canary Islands.
The thesis, directed by Fernando Tuya, senior professor of the ULPGC and member of the research group on Biodiversity and Conservation (BIOCON) of the IU-ECOAQUA, and by Ricardo Haroun, professor of the ULPGC, deputy director of the IU-ECOAQUA and head of BIOCON , has revealed that large numbers of juveniles of species such as chopa, mojarra, pejepipa, mullet, breca, white guelde, seifío, rosemary, sea bream and the old one are very abundant in these areas, reaching an average density of 96 individuals per 100 meters squares. A circumstance that reveals that the early phases of all these species are raised inside these sebadales.
Fernando Espino Rodríguez read his thesis, entitled “Ictiofauna associated with Cymodocea nodosa grasslands in the Canary Islands (Northeast Atlantic Ocean)”, before a court composed of Dr. José Antonio González, president of the court and researcher of the ULPGC, Dr. Sabrina Clemente, professor of the University of La Laguna (ULL), and Dr. Juan Socorro, director of the IFP Maritime Fisheries of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Casa del Marino).
The objective of Espino Rodríguez’s research was to study in depth the spatial and temporal variability of the fish community that inhabits the Canarian sebadales. In a first chapter, which analyzes the macro-ecological aspect of the ichthyofauna throughout the range of these marine meadows located in the Mediterranean and in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, it is shown that the composition of the fish community of Canarian sebadales is very different from the rest of the world.
An exclusivity motivated, in large part, by the unique environmental characteristics of the Canary Islands, thus providing another important argument for the conservation of this ecosystem at the regional level since, despite its high productivity and diversity with a relevant economic value for artisanal fisheries, its surface has been reduced in the Canary Islands between 40 and 60% due to different environmental impacts.
Whether these environmental impacts are increased or reduced will depend on the blue growth policies promoted by public administrations.
The thesis also illuminates other findings such as, for example, that in the Canarian waters all sebadales are not equal. Each of them is its own habitat with a specific structure whose particularity is defined by the density of the plants, the height of the leaves and the area occupied by the meadow.
The unique characteristics of each of these ‘nursery’ sebadales have a fundamental impact on the distribution, quantity and biomass patterns of some fish species, such as pejepeine and the old.