Working Group on Fisheries Benthic Impact and Trade-offs



WGFBITWGFBITTrueTobias van Kooten, Ole Ritzau Eigaard, Gert Van HoeyHAPISGtobias.vankooten@wur.nl, ore@aqua.dtu.dk, Gert.vanhoey@ilvo.vlaanderen.beWorking Group on Fisheries Benthic Impact and Trade-offs

The working group on Fisheries Benthic Impact and Trade-offs (WGFBIT) develops methods and performs assessments to evaluate benthic impact from fisheries at regional scale, while considering fisheries and seabed impact trade-offs.

WGFBIT evaluates ways of modelling the sensitivity of seabed habitats to disturbances such as bottom fishing, and produces maps and indicators for measuring what effects such human activities have on the seabed. In the context of fisheries, such information is used to estimate the impact of existing fishing pressure, to set reference values for avoiding habitat degradation and to inform managers about the interlinkages, and therefore trade-offs, between benthic impacts and the landings or revenue from the fishing activity. This information is required to explore management options and their likely consequences (see for an example the videos produced by BENTHIS).  

WGFBIT focuses on both developing new methods, as well as using existing assessment methods on the basis of a mechanistic, quantitative approach to evaluate the state of the seabed for ecoregions in the ICES area. The methods need to incorporate aspects of both the structure and function of benthic communities. In putting assessment methods into use, the group aims to derive safe biological limits to fishing impact (covering both spatial and temporal aspects), for example in relation to the amount of habitat fragmentation an area can withstand before it will be affected in its recoverability. 

The group likes to attract specialists in a variety of fields to enhance the cross-disciplinary nature of the work, including: 

  • Benthic ecology
  • Marine habitat mapping
  • Fishing gear technology
  • Fisheries management
  • Marine policy (in relation to indicators and ​good environmental status)​

WGFBIT will collaborate with the spatial fisheries data (WGSFD), benthic ecology (BEWG) and ecosystem effects of fishing (WGECO) working groups. 

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​Photo: Silvana Birchenough​

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