Benthic Ecosystem Fisheries Impact Study (BENTHIS)

BENTHIS is a pan-European research project to study the impact of bottom trawling on the sea bed and all the animals living on or in the seabed.

The 5-year project is coordinated by IMARES and carried out by a consortium of leading European Marine Research Institutes, Universities and Fishing Industry partners from 12 countries.

Benthic ecosystems play an important role in the functioning of marine ecosystems.  There is serious concern about the adverse impact of fisheries which may negatively affect the fisheries yield and integrity of the sea bed. The Common Fisheries Policy and the Strategy Framework Directive call for an improved scientific basis to integrate the role of marine benthic ecosystems in fisheries management.


BENTHIS will develop quantitative tools to assess the impact of fisheries on the benthic ecosystem and collaborate with the fishing industry to develop innovative technologies and new management approaches to reduce the impact on benthic ecosystems. The diversity of benthic ecosystem in European waters and the role of benthic species in the ecosystem functioning will be studied. The impact of fisheries 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. In the North Sea we will focus on the beam trawl fisheries for flatfish and shrimp fisheries. In the other areas the focus will be on otter trawl fisheries for roundfish and Nephrops and shellfish fisheries.

Posidonia meadows in the Mediterranean Sea
Posidonia meadows in the Mediterranean Sea

Collaboration with fishing industry

BENTHIS will collaborate with fishing industry partners to test the performance of innovative technologies to reduce fishing impact, and to develop new management approaches and explore the effects on the ecosystem and the socio-economic consequences.

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