Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Kaiser MJ, et al. (2016) Prioritisation of knowledge needs to achieve best practices for bottom-trawling in relation to seabed habitats. Fish and Fisheries 17:637-663. DOI: 10.1111/faf.12134


Management and technical approaches that achieve a sustainable level of fish production while at the same time minimizing or limiting the wider ecological effects caused through fishing gear contact with the seabed might be considered to be ‘best practice’. To identify future knowledge-needs that would help to support a transition towards the adoption of best practices for trawling, a prioritization exercise was undertaken with a group of 39 practitioners from the seafood industry and management, and 13 research scientists who have an active research interest in bottom-trawl and dredge fisheries. A list of 108 knowledge-needs related to trawl and dredge fisheries was developed in conjunction with an ‘expert task force’. The long list was further refined through a three stage process of voting and scoring, including discussions of each knowledge-need. The top 25 knowledge-needs are presented, as scored separately by practitioners and scientists. There was considerable consistency in the priorities identified by these two groups. The top priority knowledge-need to improve current understanding on the distribution and extent of different habitat types also reinforced the concomitant need for the provision and access to data on the spatial and temporal distribution of all forms of towed bottom-fishing activities. Many of the other top 25 knowledge-needs concerned the evaluation of different management approaches or implementation of different fishing practices, particularly those that explore trade-offs between effects of bottom trawling on biodiversity and ecosystem services and the benefits of fish production as food.