Important legal notice
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Fisheries and Aquaculture
Fisheries and Aquaculture - Towards sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture activities
“To develop low-impact fishing gear as an alternative to closing areas to fishing.”

The problem

High levels of concern have been expressed for many years about the adverse effects that towed fishing gear can have on the seabed and the benthic communities that live on and in the seabed. To counter these effects, there is growing pressure to close significant areas of the sea to fishing which could have significant socio-economic effects on fishing-dependent communities. Another alternative would be the development of fishing gear with a lower environmental impact.

DEGREE  Setting course for low-impact fishing gear


Closing established areas to fishing may protect some benthic communities but it may also lead to increased exploitation of more vulnerable components of stock and increase the socio-economic strains on fishery-dependent communities. As an alternative to this approach to environmental protection, DEGREE will:

  • Develop new fishing gear (otter trawl, beam trawl, dredges) that reduce the adverse effects on the seabed and benthic communities
  • Quantify the potential reduced effect on habitats and benthic communities
  • Assess the socio-economic consequences of introducing these gear in established fisheries

Contribution to policy development:

  • The development of modified, low-impact fishing gear will help the EU and Member States to meet their international obligations for the protection of the marine environment, habitats and species
  • DEGREE will inform fishery management decision-makers about environmental protection and the socio-economic consequences of individual decisions
  • Information collected and gear developed by DEGREE will assist the EU in meeting numerous aspects of declared fishery policy, such as ‘adopting measures to reduce the impact of fishing activity on marine ecosystems’ (Council Reg. 2371/2002 Art 4)

Project deliverables

  • Mid-term report – January 2008
  • Model: Physical interactions between seabed-gear components – August 2008
  • Model: Ecological effects on benthic communities – August 2008
  • Video: Physical models in flume tank – January 2007
  • Video: Effects of standard and modified fishing gear on seabed – April 2008
  • Full-scale prototypes of low-impact fishing gear – April 2009
  • Final report – April 2009


  • Website and newsletter – August 2006
  • Technical specification information sheets for low-impact fishing gear will be widely distributed among the catching sector – ongoing
  • Publication in international peer-review scientific and technical journals – as needed
  • DVD showing low-impact gear in action – by end of project

Technical information

Project acronym: DEGREE
Project’s official full title: DEvelopment of fishing Gears with Reduced Effects on the Environment
Research priority: 1.3. Modernisation and sustainability of fisheries, including aquaculture-based production systems
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 022576
Start date: 1 February 2006
Kick off meeting: February 2006
Completion date: April 2009
European Commission scientific officer: Snorri Rúnar Pálmason,

Bob van Marlen
Name: Netherlands Institute of Fisheries Research
Abbreviated name: RIVO
Address: Haringkade 1
1976 CP Ijmuiden
Postbus 68
1970 AB Ijmuiden
Country: The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)255 564 646
Fax: +31 (0)255 564 644


Name: Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
Abbreviated name: CEFAS
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory
Abbreviated name: FRS
Country: United Kingdom         

Name: Institut français de rechereche pour l’exploitation de la mer
Abbreviated name: IFREMER
Country: France 

Name: Institute of Marine Research
Abbreviated name: IMR
Country: Norway

Name: Au Bord Iascaigh Mhara
Abbreviated name: BIM
Country: Ireland

Name: Centre for Agriculture Research – Sea Fisheries Department
Abbreviated name: CLO-DvZ
Country: Belgium           

Name: Danish Institute for Fisheries Research
Abbreviated name: DIFRES
Country: Denmark         

Name: University of Aberdeen
Abbreviated name: UNIABDN
Country: United Kingdom

Name: University of Portsmouth Higher Education Corporation – Centre for Economics and Management of Aquatic Resources
Abbreviated name: UOP-CEMARe
Country: United Kingdom

Name: National Research Council – Institute of Marine Sciences, Marine Fishery Section
Abbreviated name: CNR
Country: Italy