To achieve MSC certification, fisheries must demonstrate they are not causing serious or irreversible harm to the structure and function of seafloor - or ‘benthic’ - habitats. To help fisheries understand and reduce their impacts, we have developed the Benthic Impacts Tool.
Protecting habitatsThe tool was developed in collaboration with the University of Bangor and uses sophisticated modelling software to help predict the impact of fishing gear and vessels on the seafloor.
Improved understanding of benthic habitats and fishing impacts will help fisheries reduce their impacts and avoid sensitive areas. Specifically, this tool will help to 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 3.0 of our Standard.
The tool will draw on available habitat data and identify 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.
Using the Benthic Impacts Tool
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, will be helpful in scoring 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
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