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Fishing Impacts on Seafloor Habitats

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the amount of destructive fishing activity on sensitive seabed habitats.

Access the West Coast Shorebased IFQ Program Interim Results and the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program Interim Results for Ecological Indicators

Why is this indicator important?

Some types of habitat are more essential to fish species than others, and some types of habitat are more easily damaged by fishing than others. For example, deep-water coral communities are more greatly harmed by trawling than are muddy bottom communities. The overall harm to habitats and their communities will depend on the relative changes in fishing across different habitat types. In addition, if fishers decide to switch gear type from a more harmful to a less harmful fishing gear, this would also change the impact of fishing on seafloor habitat and the associated community of species. There might also be changes in the frequency of disturbance by trawling that are relevant for considering impacts to habitats.

How is this indicator measured?

This analysis will require combining fishing locations with available mapping of seafloor habitat to estimate the total effort expended by each type of fishing gear on each type of seafloor habitat.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

This indicator will provide a direct measure of changes in ecosystem impacts caused by catch share fisheries. However, data availability at sufficiently fine resolution may be difficult to obtain, given confidentiality limits. Information on vulnerability of habitats (from available mapping) may be limited.