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Fisheries which are high energy consumers, are increasingly subjected to strong economic, environmental and social viability constraints. The quantification of their environmental effects is of the utmost importance depending on the different trades and usages. The most selective and least restrictive technologies for the environment and its biodiversity are becoming necessary in order to combine high production levels, linked to the increase in European demand on the one hand, and to sustainable management of the environment and natural marine resources on the other. This will enable the development of new, more responsible fishing technologies in order to meet the environmental objectives laid down by the member states within the framework of European Marine Strategy. The fight against the destruction of marine habitat, whether from a physical point of view (érosion)  or biological (destruction of biodiversity) will allow the functioning of ecosystems and their resilience to be stabilised.

The Channel is a remarkably rich area for its abundance in living resources but subjected to an increase in human activity which affect this particularly sensitive marine ecosystem. This fishing zone is important due to not only the presence of numerous species with a high market value but also due to the presence of spawning and feeding grounds, as well as migration channels for certain types of fish, linked to specific environmental characteristics. Any change in environment caused by human activity can have serious consequences on the quality  of the habitat of living resources and, as a result, on the survival of the species and  functioning of the ecosystem as a whole. An up-to-date and detailed study of  habitats and the species associated with them is now becoming essential in order to draw up a survey of the ecosystem in the Channel and to begin to assess the potential risks caused by such human impacts.

The location and the extent of habitats essential to conserving biodiversity and/or the species' life cycle such as, for example, the spawning and feeding grounds, will then be compared against the distribution of the fishing effort at the same period in order to assess the fishing pressure to which these sensitive zones are subjected. Alternative scenarios will be proposed in order to reduce these effects by developing: i) a new and less destructive fishing vessel, ii) by identifying the sectors which must be conserved, iii) by regulating the use of the most destructive vessels. Tools taking into consideration scientific and empiric know-how will be developed in order to contribute to the sustainable management of the fishing zones.
This project will contribute to supporting the new European fishing policy, which has to face the over-exploitation of target species and the destruction of habitats, in order to improve regulations on the conservation of biodiversity and economic profitability in relation to the increase in energy costs.

This project  was labellised by the AQUIMER Pole of Competitiveness on 30 May 2008.

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