The label ‘bottom trawling’ encompasses a vast diversity of fishing practices operating across scales of industrialisation, from vast factory vessels ploughing seamounts in the Pacific to small ‘kiss’ trawlers scouring seagrass meadows in the Mediterranean.
There are specific issues associated with each variation of bottom trawling and while we need bespoke solutions to accommodate local nuances, all bottom trawlers are united by their intense and unique impact on marine biodiversity. Fishing gears that penetrate or are dragged along the seabed – like bottom trawls and dredges – can be conclusively linked to all three major biodiversity impacts of fishing: target species decline, bycatch and seabed damage. We are now learning that they can also have far-reaching impacts on carbon stored in marine sediments. These make bottom trawling a uniquely high-risk practice and distinguish it from other fishing methods.