This study aims to determine whether trawl fisheries on soft bottoms have the potential to be sustainable, and what characteristics determine the probability of sustainability. Based on existing studies, the project will first describe a number of soft-bottom trawl fisheries. Fisheries will be grouped where possible by specific characteristics such as gear types, fishing depths, season length, number of vessels and quota or TAC management system, and then benchmarked under respective impacts on habitats and/or ecosystem structure, to provide an assessment of their potential for sustainability.
The second part of the study aims to determine what a sustainable fishery utilising bottom trawls on soft sediments might constitute, either using examples from a fishery that currently exists or from a combination of characteristics from a number of existing fisheries. This will draw on the examples studies in Part One and will determine the combination of characteristics that can result in mitigation of impacts to an acceptable level, including, modifications of fishing and management strategies where appropriate.