Innovation in managing fishing impacts on habitats

The MSC Habitat Impacts Tool uses sophisticated modelling software to help predict the impact fishing will have on a seabed habitat. The tool will help strengthen assessors' confidence in their scoring, being objective and data-driven.

The research challenge

The latest MSC Fisheries Standard (version 2.0) has new rules that ensure stronger protection for habitats. Fisheries now need to show there is no serious or irreversible harm on habitats from their fishing activities. To do this, they need to understand how their activities impact the seabed.  

The solution

We’re working with researchers at Bangor University to create software for fisheries assessors to use to better measure the impacts of fishing gear and vessels. It will draw on available habitat data and identify the combinations of habitat and fishing gear types that lead to serious damage – damage that takes more than 20 years for the habitat to recover.

Who benefits?

Fisheries will be able to use this tool to understand and manage their habitat impacts. It will also help to provide quantitative evidence for third-party assessment bodies who assess fisheries against the MSC Standard. This is necessary for protecting sponges, corals and other rare sea floor species and habitats.

Research partners

This research is a collaboration with Bangor University, UK.

For more information, please contact standards@msc.org

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