BENTHIS – Benthic ecosystem fisheries Impact Study
Benthic ecosystems provide important goods and services, such as fisheries products and supporting, regulation and cultural services. There is serious concern about the adverse impact of fisheries on benthic ecosystem which may negatively affect the fisheries yield and integrity of the sea bed. To develop an integrated approach to the management of human activities in the marine environment, in particular fishing, there is a need to develop quantitative tools to assess the impact of fisheries on the benthic ecosystem and at the same time collaborate with the fishing industry to develop innovative technologies and new management approaches to reduce the impact on benthic ecosystems. BENTHIS will provide the knowledge to further develop the ecosystem approach to fisheries management as required in the Common Fisheries Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. It will study the diversity of benthic ecosystem in European waters and the role of benthic species in the ecosystem functioning. Fisheries impacts will be studied on benthic organisms and on the geo-chemistry. The newly acquired knowledge will be synthesized in a number of generic tools that will be combined into a fishing/seabed habitat risk assessment method that will be applied to fisheries in the Baltic, North Sea, Western waters, Mediterranean and Black Sea. Fisheries will be selected with the fishing industry based on the impact on the benthic ecosystem. BENTHIS will integrate fishing industry partners to collaborate in testing the performance of innovative technologies to reduce fishing impact. Finally, in collaboration with the fishing industry and other stakeholders, new management approaches will be developed and tested on their effects on the ecosystem and the socio-economic consequences. As such BENTHIS will the urgently needed scientific basis to integrate the role of marine benthic ecosystems in fisheries management.