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REDUCE Project Meeting in Barcelona: Global Collaboration to Mitigate Marine Megafauna Bycatch

The University of Barcelona and the Biodiversity Research Institute of Barcelona (IRBio-UB) are convening a pivotal project meeting in the vibrant city of Barcelona from April 17th to April 20th. This gathering marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts under the project “Reducing bycatch of threatened marine megafauna in the East Central Atlantic”, known as REDUCE. It has been recently granted for funding by the European Commission through Horizon Europe, and coordinated by Dr. Jacob González-Solís researcher from IRBio-UB. 

See the press release form UB “The University of Barcelona leads a Horizon Europe project to reduce marine megafauna bycatch”   

Project Kick of meeting 

The REDUCE project, which commenced on January 1st, 2024, will be running for four years. This upcoming meeting will be the first in person meeting of the partnership after four months of intense collaboration to set the basic elements for the research and development activities ahead of them. Forty-three delegates representing the partnership and some of the key stakeholder organisations will spend three days sharing knowledge, informing their peers on recent progress and collaboratively planning for the next project period.  

Meeting Agenda Highlights 

The meeting agenda unfolds across three dynamic days, each brimming with discourse and innovation. Dr. Jacob González Solís and Dr. Manel Gazo, from the Seabird Ecology Lab and Marine Megafauna research group respectively, of the Faculty of Biology and IRBio-UB welcomed the partnership delegates and meeting speakers on their arrival, on the 17th April. 

The inaugural day of the meeting set the tone for collaboration and knowledge exchange, with esteemed speakers providing insights into the Horizon Europe Framework and the legal frameworks relevant to the bycatch of threatened megafauna species. Participants engaged in project overviews, sharing crucial contextual knowledge about long distance fishing grounds and fisheries management where the European fleets operate and the status of marine ecosystems in the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean (ECAO) area.  

Overall, context talks offer a comprehensive understanding of marine ecosystems and the challenges posed by the incidental bycatch of threatened megafauna species. 

Day 2 will see insights from the Partners contribute with their perspectives on potential solutions, focusing on integrating bycatch data, enhancing observer programs, and deploying artificial intelligence to inform mitigation strategies. Breakout sessions will foster targeted discussions, driving operational decisions and paving the way for collaborative endeavours. 

The last day will be dedicated to “Planning Ahead the next project milestones and endeavours”. It will assess the feedback that emerged from breakout sessions to inform deliberations on synergies with adjacent EU projects, project ethics, and outreach strategies. Work package presentations will offer a synthesis of progress, guiding future endeavours. A dialogue with the Advisory Board will provide invaluable guidance, steering the project towards impactful outcomes.   

The meeting will conclude with a collective reflection on achievements and a forward-looking agenda to drive impactful outcomes. REDUCE partners want to extend a cordial invitation to all stakeholders and interested parties to contact and join for collaborative activities ahead and to stay tuned for the project communications and outreach activities. The project will soon inform about the launch of a website and social network accounts which are yet under preparation.