A new study paper entitled “A scientific basis for regulating deep-sea fishing by depth” has been published. The study, which draws upon deepwater trawl survey data collected mainly by Marine Scotland Science over the past 15 years, was undertaken by Glasgow University and Marine Scotland Science.
The European Parliament has been debating how to manage its deepwater fisheries in a more sustainable way.
One proposal has been to prohibit bottom trawling at depths greater than 600 m. To date, however, there has been little evidence to support this. The results of this new study, that is based on scientific trawl survey data, show that at depths between 600-800m the commercial value per standardised trawl falls while the number of species impacted and the proportion of catch that is discarded (notably deep-sea sharks) increases. Trawling deeper than 600 m is thus less rewarding and results in increasing impact on the environment. Thus there is now a stronger scientific case for limiting bottom trawling to depths shallower than 600-800m.
Marine Scotland is currently carrying out further analysis on the impact of various depth-related restrictions which, along with the findings of this report, will help us build on our policy position.
- Read the open access paper
- Marine Scotland Science
- Glasgow University press release
- MASTS blog
- Nature review article