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Reducing the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems

Fishing using bottom trawl has a negative impact on benthic communities, which play a very important role in the ecosystems functioning of the Barents Sea. This fact is confirmed by dozens of scientific works of Russian and foreign authors. According to objective estimates by Russian specialists there was a significant decrease in the biomass and species diversity of the zoobenthos over the period of the trawling fleet existence in the Barents Sea.

The marine ecosystem as a whole is a very complex, multivariable structure, and although there is no known direct connection between benthos and cod and haddock stocks, this does not mean that it does not exist at all. Information on the extent of the impact of the bottom trawl on marine ecosystems in recent years has become available to the world community and has provoked waves of protest against this fishing gear with the demands to restrict it completely.

In 2013, a scientific justification has been formalized in Germany that bottom trawling inflicts severe damage to bottom ecosystems and its products should not be MSC labeled. As a result of a similar analysis carried out by WWF, recommendations to reduce this impact were developed. Russian fishermen decided to pass the environmental certification of the MSC willfully and voluntarily, thereby confirming their responsible attitude for the safety of the Barents Sea aquatic biological resources and their readiness to implement MSC recommendations. Expressing concern for the benthos, fishermen indirectly take care of their future yield of cod and haddock: a healthier marine ecosystem will be able to produce more fish.