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 Celtic Seas (Figure 18.104.22.168). This figure excludes Spanish fishing effort. Fishing is mainly concentrated along the shelf edge, i.e. around the southern shelf regions and on fishing grounds in the Irish Sea and to the west of Scotland.
STECF data show that fishing effort with bottom mobile gears decreased by 35% from 2003 to 2012 in the Celtic Seas ecoregion. This has reduced the spatial fishing footprint and the average number of times the seabed is trawled per year. A reduction in spatial extent and intensity is particularly apparent for bottom otter trawling for the mixed demersal fishery in the area northwest of Scotland and beam trawling in the Irish Sea.
Other pressures on the Celtic Seas ecosystem