IMARES is studying the effects of shrimp fishing on the composition and weight of the local populations of seabed fauna in the Voordelta seabed protection zone.
The seabed protection zone was set up to compensate for the loss of coastal shallows in the Natura 2000 Voordelta area caused by the construction of Maasvlakte II.
In the Voordelta protection zone, the use of fishing equipment with chains that trawl the seabed is prohibited, but shrimp fishers use a net that rolls over the seabed and that – in theory – does not affect the seabed fauna or disturbs them less. Is this true? In order to find out, six test beds were marked out in the Voordelta. One half of each bed was fished six times per year over a three-year period with a traditional shrimp net. Prior to fishing, the species of seabed fauna and their numbers were analysed in the fished and non-fished sections of each test bed. After fishing with the shrimp net, all the beds were sampled again using the same techniques. This was done in order to reveal the differences (if any) between the fished and non-fished sections and thus determine the effect of the shrimp net.
During the study, IMARES used a commercial trawler of the same type that normally fishes for shrimp in the Voordelta. In this way, the trials were as realistic as possible.