Fisheries Impacts on Marine Protected Habitats - A Review of the Evidence.
This report provides literature synthesis on the effects of different fishing gears on marine habitats protected within English waters. It was produced by Natural England as part of a project commissioned by DEFRA's Marine Biodiversity Impacts Evidence Group. The purpose is to support the assessment and management of commercial fishing in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), providing evidence for Habitat Regulations and Marine Conservation Zone Assessments. To ensure consistency with Natural England's published MPA Conservation Advice packages, the report uses standardized terminology, definitions, and categorization of habitats and fishing gears. The reviews are structured according to the main pressures exerted by these gears on marine habitats, facilitating the incorporation of evidence into MPA assessments. The report aims to utilize the best available evidence while acknowledging limitations and identifying gaps in knowledge. The impacts of fishing gears on habitats depend on various factors, including the specific gear, its interaction with the habitat, footprint of interaction, longevity of interaction, and habitat recovery times. Therefore, site-specific evidence and advice should also be considered alongside this report when making Habitat Regulations Assessments (HRAs) and fisheries management decisions. In addition, the project also involves the creation of a public database that catalogs available evidence on fisheries impacts on MPA features. This database will be published soon, providing further access to information on this topic.