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The sustainability of deep-sea fishing in Greenland from a benthic ecosystem perspective: the nature of habitats, impacts of trawling and the effectiveness of governance

Long, Stephen; (2022) The sustainability of deep-sea fishing in Greenland from a benthic ecosystem perspective: the nature of habitats, impacts of trawling and the effectiveness of governance. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The deep sea (>200 m) is the world’s least explored and largest biome, covering ~65% of the earth’s surface, it is increasingly subject to anthropogenic disturbance from fishing. The offshore Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) fishery, west Greenland, employs demersal trawl gear at depths of 800-1,400 m. Recent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of this fishery highlighted the paucity of knowledge of benthic habitats and trawling impacts. This interdisciplinary thesis employs a benthic video sled to investigate deep-sea habitats and trawling impacts and conducts a critical analysis of the fishery’s governance, with reference to the role of the MSC certification. The results provide new insights into this poorly known region of the Northwest Atlantic, including identifying four candidate vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). Imagery obtained demonstrates that chronic trawling has had extensive impacts on the seafloor, which are significantly associated with the benthic communities observed. Further, trawling effort is shown to have a significant negative association with the abundance of some VME indicator taxa. The governance case study finds an effective system of state-led governance, supported by scientific, certification and industry actors. Outcomes directly attributable to engagement with the MSC certification include the introduction of a management plan and new benthic research programmes. However, questions are raised about the MSC certification, providing case study examples of existing criticisms. Assessments are weak with respect to benthic habitats and overreliant on the definitive, expert judgement of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), whose independence is questioned. The assurance offered by the MSC certification in terms of the sustainability of trawling impacts on benthic ecosystems is found to seriously lack credibility. Findings are of direct relevance to the management of deep-sea fisheries in Greenland and elsewhere. Widely applicable critical insights into deep-sea fishery governance are presented, including into the role of eco-labels as a market-mechanism to promote sustainable fishery management.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The sustainability of deep-sea fishing in Greenland from a benthic ecosystem perspective: the nature of habitats, impacts of trawling and the effectiveness of governance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author's request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10145033
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