Persistence in the fine-scale distribution and spatial aggregation of fishing

Niels T. Hintzen*, Geert Aarts, Adriaan D. Rijnsdorp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


High-resolution vessel monitoring (VMS) data have led to detailed estimates of the distribution of fishing in both time and space. While several studies have documented large-scale changes in fishing distribution, fine-scale patterns are still poorly documented, despite VMS data allowing for such analyses. We apply a methodology that can explain and predict effort allocation at fine spatial scales; a scale relevant to assess impact on the benthic ecosystem. This study uses VMS data to quantify the stability of fishing grounds (i.e. aggregated fishing effort) at a microscale (tens of meters). The model links effort registered at a large scale (ICES rectangle; 1 longitude0.5 latitude,~3600 km2) to fine spatial trawling intensities at a local scale (i.e. scale matching gear width, here 24 m). For the first time in the literature, the method estimates the part of an ICES rectangle that is unfavourable or inaccessible for fisheries, which is shown to be highly stable over time and suggests higher proportions of inaccessible grounds for either extremely muddy or courser substrates. The study furthermore shows high stability in aggregation of fishing, where aggregation shows a positive relationship with depth heterogeneity and a negative relationship with year-on-year variability in fishing intensity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfsy144
Number of pages11
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Early online date6 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • beam trawling
  • benthic impact
  • Effects of trawling
  • inaccessible habitat
  • North Sea
  • unfavourable habitat
  • VMS


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