Effects of decreased trophic availability of long-chain fatty acids OMEGA 3 on small pelagic fish and human populations: development of an interdisciplinary framework combining physical, biological, economic and sociological approaches


Marie Vagner et Laure Pecquerie

Project type



Projet Emblématique (Flagship) EUR ISblue

Project duration

Start Date

October 1, 2020

End Date

September 30, 2024

For human populations, fish are a major source of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC PUFAs), commonly known as omega-3s, which are necessary for the maintenance of vital functions. Smaller pelagic fish, mainly from the Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems (EBUS), are the main contributors to the consumption and direct use of n-3 LC PUFAs by humans. Ongoing climate change, combined with the increasing human population, is leading to a clear warning that the supply of n-3 LC PUFAs may become insufficient by 2040. There is an urgent need to assess the impact of environmental changes on the accumulation of n-3 LC PUFAs by PPPs and their consequences for PPP populations in order to maintain ecosystem functioning and the supply of omega-3s for humans. This very fundamental scientific issue, with ecological, socio-economic and public health concerns, has not yet been addressed on a global scale. In order to pave the way for this challenging issue, this project will first focus on the Bay of Biscay (GoG) as a reference study site to develop a groundbreaking research methodology, which will then be disseminated to four EBUS (Humboldt, Benguela, Canary Islands and California). In addition, the effect of fisheries production methods (e.g. fishing gear, season, length of tides, on-board storage, landing location, processing) on the n-3 LC PUFA content of fish, as well as fishermen’s and consumers’ perceptions of the relationship between global changes and n-3 LC PUFA consumption, will certainly benefit the sustainable governance of fisheries and the supply of n-3 LC PUFAs for humans. This project combines in situ observations, experiments, modelling, economics and sociological analyses, in order to assess (1) the spatio-temporal variability of n-3 LC PUFA content in PPP, (2) the influence of trophic availability of n-3 LC PUFA on PPP physiology and behaviour, and (3) its impacts at the population level and potential future changes in n-3 LC PUFA supplies, (4) the effects of fisheries production methods on the n-3 LC PUFA quality of fish, and (5) fishermen’s and consumers’ perceptions and acceptable alternative sources of n-3 LC PUFA for consumers.

The team


AMURE : Fabienne Daurès, Christelle Le Grand, Mathieu Merzéréaud

Ifremer STH : Martin Huret, Christophe Lebigre, Sophie Le Mestre

LOPS : Eric Machu, Thomas Gorgues,

Conserverie Chancerelle

LP3C : Estelle Masson

Audencia Business School : Gervaise Debucquet

LOCEAN : François Colas, Xavier Capet, Vincent Echevin

UMMISCO : Timothée Brochier

Partenaires académiques internationaux : Sénégal (UCAD, CRODT), Afrique du Sud (DAFF, UCT), Pérou (UPCH, IMARPE), Mexique (CICIMAR, CIBNOR)