Using MPAs to address regional-scale ecological objectives in the North Sea: modelling the effects of fishing effort displacement

S.P.R. Greenstreet, H.M. Fraser, G.J. Piet

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The use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to address regional-scale objectives as part of an ecosystem approach to management in the North Sea is examined. Ensuring that displacement of fishing activity does not negate the ecological benefits gained from MPAs is a major concern. Two scenarios are considered: using MPAs to safeguard important areas for groundfish species diversity and using them to reduce fishing impacts on benthic invertebrates. Appropriate MPAs were identified using benthic invertebrate and fish abundance data. Fishing effort redistribution was modelled using international landings and fishing effort data. Closing 7.7% of the North Sea to protect groundfish species diversity increased the fishing impact on benthic invertebrates. Closing 7.3% of the North Sea specifically to protect benthic invertebrates reduced fishing mortality by just 1.7¿3.8%, but when combined with appropriate reductions in total allowable catch (TAC), 16.2¿17.4% reductions in fishing mortality were achieved. MPAs on their own are unlikely to achieve significant regional-scale ecosystem benefits, because local gains are largely negated by fishing effort displacement into the remainder of the North Sea. However, in combination with appropriate TAC reductions, the effectiveness of MPAs may be enhanced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-100
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • marine protected areas
  • fisheries management
  • ecosystem approach
  • reserve design
  • community structure
  • species-diversity
  • factory trawlers
  • adjacent fishery
  • predatory fish
  • scotian shelf

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