Impact assessment of the pulse trawl fishery (2016-2019)

The overall aim of this project is to assess the consequences of a transition in the sole fishery from using tickler chain beam trawls to pulse trawls. In order to fulfil the overall aim, predictive models of the effect of electric pulses on organisms and on different ecosystem components will be developed and applied. The results will be integrated to assess the consequences of a transition in the flatfish fishery from using tickler chain beam trawls to pulse trawls on the bycatch of undersized fish (discards) and the adverse impact on the North Sea ecosystem.

The research project is carried out by a consortium of Wageningen Marine Research (Fisheries Group, Ijmuiden), Wageningen University (Experimental Zoology Group, Wageningen), Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Benthic Ecology Group, Yerseke) and the Belgium Fisheries Research Institute (ILVO, Ostend).

The research project is carried out with support of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Four interrelated Work Packages

The research project comprises of 4 interrelated Work Packages:

  1. Marine organisms. Laboratory experiments will be conducted on the effect of electrical pulses on the behaviour and mortality of a selection of marine organisms, and predictive models will be developed on how marine organisms are affect by electrical pulses.
  2. Benthic ecosystem. Field and laboratory experiments will be carried out on the effect of electric pulses on the functioning of benthic ecosystems, and predictive models will be developed on how ecosystem functioning is affected by pulse trawling.
  3. Sea bed (scaling up to the North Sea level). Development of the tools to integrate the results of WorkPackage 1 and WorkPackage 2 in a spatially explicit predictive model of the distribution of fishing activities of pulse trawl fishers and its consequences for the catch, bycatch, and species that are not retained but come into contact with the electric field as well as the impact on the benthic ecosystem.
  4. Impact assessment. Results obtained in WorkPackage 1 to WorkPackage 3 will be synthesised in an Impact Assessment that will quantify the consequences of a transition of the flatfish fleet from tickler chain beam trawls to pulse trawls.