What are the best opportunities for restoring the seafloor ecosystem? This is the subject of the FBIT working group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) during its three-year programme. One of the chairs of this working group is from Wageningen Marine Research.
Researchers involved in the EU project Benthis, which recently finished, have developed a method to assess the effect of bottom fishing on the condition of the seafloor. This method estimates, based on knowledge and assumptions, the extent to which the seafloor ecosystem differs from its unfished state. FBIT aims to further develop and apply this method. For example, effects of other forms of human disturbance, such as sand extraction and beach nourishment, are not yet covered by the method.
The objective is that all EU member states can apply the method to their Exclusive Economic Zones, the areas which extend off their coasts. With this work, WUR facilitates more effective recovery and conservation of the seafloor ecosystem.