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For several decades, the fishing industry is under pressure due to high fuel costs and catch
limitations (declining stocks), but also the available fishing grounds are increasingly regulated
by numerous (European) directives. Besides that, - fishers also operate in territorial waters
which are regulated by several national jurisdictions. In addition, a more intensive use of
marine space and new stakeholders lead to a greater competition between the fishing industry
and other maritime sectors. All of this makes it difficult to keep a clear overview of the actual
space for fisheries. Therefore, we created the information platform “Geofish” (www.geofish.be),
which presents available geographic information in multiple layers in an online consultable
system. The Belgian fishing fleet, wherefore it is developed in first instance, operates in a wide
region (from Irish Sea to the Greater North Sea), facing a lot of spatial competition. For example,
around 285000 km² of Belgian fishing grounds are currently designated as marine protected
area (MPA), under various legislation (mainly Natura 2000). At the moment, most of these areas
are still accessible for fishing activities but certain restrictions (closure, technical net
adaptions…) are ready for implementation. This is visualized with the Geofish tool, with
indication of the potential fishery restrictions. Besides, MPAs, the construction of wind farms is
also substantially reducing the areal extent of the fishing grounds (+- 14400 km²), already
causing loss of fishery grounds. By including fisheries landings data (weight and value of
commercial fish) in the tool, we can also estimate possible financial loss of fishery closures.
Such information is essential to support the sector in the changing maritime landscape and
increased competition for space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUsing Geofish to estimate potential catch loss for the fishery sector
Number of pages165
Publication date13-Mar-2019
Pages22
Publication statusPublished - 13-Mar-2019

ID: 6910048