Test of low impact fishing gear at the Dogger Bank area and an appeal to fishermen to keep a small area free from fishing from April 2013 to July 2014

12th March 2013 in Fisheries Science, North Sea, Sustainability / Environment

Scientists from the Danish National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) are conducting tests of new gear at the Dogger Bank in co-operation with the Danish Fishermen’s Association. The aim is to investigate if fishing with pelagic doors and lighter trawling gear reduce fishery impacts on the seabed and associated fauna.

As known to most fishermen there are ongoing discussions between governments, fishermen and fishermen’s associations and NGO’s about the future fishing activities on the Dogger Bank. To comply with possible restrictions on fishing with high impact gear at Dogger Bank, scientists are investigating the effects of a new principle in bottom trawling, which use pelagic doors and light materials, in order to reduce the area swept per CPUE, and the physical impacts on the seafloor and associated fauna. For this purpose, a study area of <4 nm2 (square nautical mile), which is kept free from fishing from 1st April this year (2013) until 1st July next year (2014), is needed.

A successful result of these investigations could influence the decisions on closure of areas for bottom trawling.

The area in question is located within the following corner positions:

55 21,85N 3 45,00E

55 21,85N 3 48,00E

55 19,95N 3 48,00E

55 19,95N 3 45,00E

The scientists will investigate the effects of a conventional bottom trawl as compared to the new gear with pelagic doors and a light-weight trawl. The effects will be evaluated through studies of the physical impacts on the seabed using side scan sonar and under water video recording, and by determinations of the amount, sizes and diversity of living organisms in the sediment. The latter is done through analyzing of Van Veen grab samples.

The vessels doing the gear trials are L-524 Lonny Hedvig and L-455 Lotte Vohnsen.

To avoid bias from other fisheries, this investigation needs to be carried out in an area not fishery during the study period.

Furthermore, to obtain reliable information, gear tests and data collection must be undertaken both in 2013 and 2014.

The Danish Fishermen’s Association and the Danish National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) therefore appeal to all fishermen to refrain from fishing in the area as from now on and until July 1st 2014.

The new pelagic doors on board L-524 Lonny Hedvig.

The project is funded by GUDP (Green Development and Demonstration Programme), The Danish AgriFish Agency. Please contact Henrik Lund, Danish Fishermen’s Association (e-mail: hl@dkfisk.dk) or Eva Maria Pedersen, DTU Aqua (e-mail: emp@aqua.dtu.dk) if you have any questions or would like additional information on the project.