Abrasion occurs from towed bottom-contacting gear with some damage to benthic organisms and habitats. 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 Norwegian Sea. Relatively little such gear is used in the NwS, mainly on the shelf in the southern part of the ecoregion (Figure 7). Some abrasion can occur near offshore oil and gas operations – these also are limited in extent and numbers in the NwS. 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 26 075 km2 of the ecoregion in 2018; this corresponds to ca. 2.2% of the ecoregion’s spatial extent (Figure 7).
Coral reef areas are protected from bottom fishing. Relatively large areas are closed to petroleum-related activities in the Norwegian EZZ, in particular at the Møre plateau (Figure 8).
Figure 8: Framework for petroleum activities (announcement of blocks, exploration drilling, seismic surveying). Source: Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, 2009.