Global climate change and the human impact on marine ecosystems have led to dramatic decreases in the number of fish in the ocean, but also to an increase in jellyfish.
The GoJelly project, co-ordinated by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Germany, would like to transform problematic jellyfish into a resource that can be used to produce microplastic filters, fertilisers or fish feed.
GoJelly is a consortium of 15 scientific institutions from eight countries led by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel.
The EU has approved funding of €6m over four years to support the project through its Horizon 2020 programme.
Jellyfish are appearing in huge numbers that have already destroyed fish farms on European coasts and blocked the cooling systems of nearby power stations.
Jamileh Javidpour of GEOMAR, said: “In Europe alone, the imported American comb jelly has a biomass of one billion tonnes. While we tend to ignore the jellyfish, there must be other solutions.”
The project will first entail exploring the lifecycle of several jellyfish species. A lack of knowledge about lifecycles makes it almost impossible to predict when and why a large jellyfish bloom will occur.
Jellyfish would be much more sustainable and would protect natural fish stocks if used as fertilisers for agriculture or as aquaculture feed, according to the GoJelly team.
Another option uses jellyfish as food for humans. Javidpour added: “In some cultures, jellyfish are already on the menu. As long as the end product is no longer slimy, it could also gain greater general acceptance.”
Jellyfish also contain collagen, a substance very much sought after in the cosmetics industry.