A team of University researchers carried out a remarkable fourthear field research, together with Lyme Bay fishermen.
The UK’s fishing industry currently experiences a significant number of challenges. However, according to a study conducted by the University of Plymouth, preserving the optimal density of lobster pot and crab enhances the efficiency of the catch, supports the marine ecosystem, thereby allowing for a more sustainable industry.
The study was published in the Scientific Reports which is Nature Group’s journal. The studies are findings of comprehensive and remarkable four-year field-study completed in cooperation with local fishermen off southern England’s coasts.
Over a long period, these researchers uncovered varieties of seabeds to varying pot fishing densities and regulated any effects using a variety of catch analysis and aquatic videos.
They established that in regions of greater pot density, the fishermen were able to catch 19% less of brown crab, as well as 35% less of European lobster. Also, their brown crab catches were on average 35 grams (7 per cent) lighter each.
The consequence on marine species was particularly significant as two ecologically significant reef species, Phallusia mammillata and Pentapora foliacea were 74% and 83% less abundant each where there was higher pot density.
The Researchers also confirmed that the study gives proof of the threshold of fishing intensity while highlighting the fact that commercial pot fishery is potentially more compatible with marine protection when it is regulated correctly at a level that is low and sustainable.
The study was undertaken by the University’s marine science department, but particularly funded by the Blue Foundation and Defra, in partnership with the Lyme Bay committee.
It is based on a provisional report circulated by Defra in 2019, and a study published in October 2020 applied previously unseen footage to indicate the environmental impacts of pot fishing.
Adam Rees, a post-Doctoral researcher also lead author of this current research explained that consequences of bottom-towed fishing have inspired the University’s long term commitment to the project at Lyme Bay. He said that before the advent of the research, few was known when it comes to the effects of pot-fishing within a wide lapse of time. This poses threats such as that affect seabed species and quantity and quality of catches.
The study concentrated on the Lyme Bay Reserve, an area that has enjoyed protection from all bottom-towed fishing since as far back as 2008. It’s a part of Lyme Bay and Torbay Special Area of Conservation, a section of the English Channel predominantly explored by little boats working out of villages and towns.
Ever since 2008, the University has been assessing the recovery of seabed recovery and has previously indicated that numerous species have returned to that area ever since the introduction of MPA.
Suggestions from this study have now been incorporated within the 25-year Environment Plan, as well as one of the UK government’s major reports regarding marine areas under protection, led by Richard Benyon.
The study comes after the marine management body suggested its intent to place bans on bottom trawling around several offshore MPA in the UK.