Physical disturbance of benthic habitats by bottom trawl fishing gear is described by using vessel monitoring system (VMS) and logbook data. The extent, magnitude, and impact of mobile bottom-contacting fishing gear on the seabed and benthic habitats varies geographically across the North Sea.
Using vessel monitoring system (VMS) and logbook data ICES estimates that mobile bottom trawls used by commercial fisheries in the 12 m+ vessel category have been deployed over approximately 490 185 km2 of the ecoregion in 2018, corresponding to ca. 73.1 % of the ecoregion's spatial extent (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Average annual subsurface (left) and surface (right) disturbance by mobile bottom contacting fishing gear (Bottom otter trawls, Bottom seines, Dredges, Beam trawls) in the Greater North Sea during 2015-2018, expressed as average swept area ratios (SAR).