Quantifying and reducing the physical impact of mobile fishing gears (ReFigure) (39802)

Project Details


The EU Common Fisheries Policy stipulates that fisheries are managed from an ecosystem perspective and that the impact of fishing gears on the environment is taken into account. Hence, to manage Danish and EU fisheries in a rational and objective way we need to be able to measure the impact of fishing gears quantitatively.

To date, most studies and assessment methodology of the benthic impact of fishing gears only distinguish between gears at the broad level of fishing gear type (ie otter trawl, beam trawl or seine net, etc). To differentiate properly between gears and to design and develop gears of reduced impact it is necessary to consider their impact at the level of the individual gear components (ie trawl doors, sweeps, ground gear element, seine net rope, gillnet leadline) and on a range of sediment types.

This project will quantitatively assess the physical impact, at the gear component level, of the main gears used by the Danish and European demersal fishing industry on a range of sediment types.
In particular, it will
- quantify the amount of sediment mobilised by towed fishing gears,
- measure the depth to which the components of a given gear penetrate the seabed,
- develop predictive models of the physical impact of trawl gears,
- identify which elements or components of fishing gears cause the most impact
- produce guidelines for the fishing industry on how to modify their gears to reduce impact and
- evaluate indicators of good environmental status of descriptor 6 on seabed integrity.

This will allow policy makers and fishery managers to implement the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by promoting competitive, environmentally sustainable and economically viable fisheries. It will contribute to the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) by helping evaluate the indicators relating to the physical impact of fishing and how it effects habitat and seabed integrity. It will inform decision making with regard to permissible fishing activities in Marine Protected areas.

It will allow the fishing industry to prepare for and respond to future management measures, to modify their gears, develop gears of reduced impact and choose their fishing methods appropriately. Thus permitting continued access to fishing grounds, and ensuring that the fishery is exploited in an environmentally sustainable and economically viable manner.

DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources (coordinator)
Danish Fishermen PO, Denmark
University of Aberdeen, Scotland
SINTEF, Denmark
Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Belgium  

The project is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Danish Fisheries Agency (EMFF).

Research area: Fisheries Technology
Research area: Ecosystem based Marine Management
Research area: Observation Technology
Effective start/end date26/06/202026/08/2022


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