Poster Open Access

Fishing activity, distribution of commercial fish species and interaction with VMEs in the Bay of Biscay

Woillez, Mathieu; Laffargue, Pascal; Rochette, Sébastien; Menot, Lenaïck

Poster presentation at ATLAS 3rd General Assembly.


Deep-water coral reefs or sponge aggregations are unique ecosystems, but they are poorly known. They are also extremely vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbance. Damage to these so-called vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) has already been described. They may take decades or even centuries to recover. It is recognised that fisheries are the biggest threat to VMEs. Ensuring the conservation or the protection of VMEs is a challenge that requires an accurate knowledge of fisheries spatial footprint. Here, we aimed at identifying the interaction of fisheries with VMEs in the Bay of Biscay and their potential dependencies over those vulnerable ecosystems. At the regional scale, maps of fishing effort and abrasion are produced from vessel monitoring system (VMS) data in the main VMEs area of the Bay of Biscay, and statistics are derived for depth classes ranging from 200m to 1000m. Proxy distributions of fish species of commercial interest though to be present in the CWC habitat are also produced from the commercial landings to illustrate fishing dependencies to those areas. At the fine scale, an analysis is performed computing the swept area from fishing vessels occurring in the vicinity of known VME areas of the Bay of Biscay. Areas impacted by fishing vessels are also compared to potential VME habitats derived from a modeling approach. Our results suggest that locations where VMEs have not been directly impacted by bottom trawling should exist in the Bay of Biscay. It provides an evidence base through which managers can explore the opportunity of protecting those preserved VMEs from human impacts.



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