FIS026 - Fishing strategies to manage benthic footprint
FIS 001 pointed to aspects of marine planning, protected area / protected feature management, maintaining ecosystem services and seabed integrity as factors driving need for research to alleviate the physical impacts of towed gear on the seabed. Where commercial species are in themselves sensitive to aspects of seabed disturbance, there is a direct sustainable fishing rational also (e.g. where fishery-related benthic disturbance may be acting to affect population status/recruitment of commercial fish and shellfish).
There are a variety of different elements that can feed into this broad goal, of which modifications of gear is relatively well-studied and appreciated. Of more interest to FIS at this time is consideration of the logical two-stage approach identified below:
Geo-spatial mapping of the ocean bottom, providing detailed information about bottom contours and habitat types, can incorporated into the scientific assessment of target species, leading to an improved understanding of the resource. In addition to the standard annual scientific surveys done jointly with government, industry could conduct a series of more detailed grid surveys that allow a more accurate definition of target species distribution leading to better precision in designing management measures.
FIS required research that provides some evidence for the creation of new guidance on changes in fishing practices that will help to achieve a reduction of negative impacts on the benthic environment during fishing. This broad theme would benefit from a phased approach – with an initial scoping / development phase (< 1 year?) prior to more extensive practical / experimental work in the field.
The objectives of initial phase would be: