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The Benthic Impacts Tool is used to help fisheries understand and reduce their impacts on seafloor habitats.

What is the Benthic Impacts Tool?

The Benthic Impacts Tool is a digital application but instructions for its use in MSC fishery assessments sit within the Fisheries Standard Toolbox.

The tool uses modelling software to help predict the impact of fishing gear and vessels on the seafloor. Specifically, it helps quantify the impacts of bottom trawling on sedimentary habitats. These types of habitats are often referred to as “commonly encountered habitat” types within version 2.01 of our Fisheries Standard and “less sensitive habitat” types in the context of an assessment against version 3.1 of our Standard.   

The tool draws on available habitat data and identifies the combinations of habitat and fishing gear types that lead to serious damage to the seafloor – damage that takes more than 20 years for the habitat to recover. 

The Tool was developed in collaboration with the University of Bangor and was published alongside Version 3 of the MSC Fisheries Standard in October 2022.

When should the Benthic Impacts Tool be used?

Fisheries seeking certification to the MSC Fisheries Standard will be able to use this tool to understand and manage their impacts on habitats.

The tool is optional to use but may support assessment of the Habitats Performance Indicator (2.3.1, scoring issue (a)).

The tool will also help to provide consistent and quantitative evidence for third-party assessment bodies who assess fisheries against our Standard. This will help strengthen confidence that assessments are data-driven and objective. 

Support and guidance

Our user manual contains detailed instructions on how to use the Benthic Impacts Tool. You can also watch our training video for further guidance and support in using the tool.

Contact [email protected] with any questions about the tool and its use in fisheries assessments. 

Using the MSC Benthic Impacts Tool

Using the MSC Benthic Impacts Tool