Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Fishing for space: fine-scale multi-sector maritime activities influence fisher location choice

The EU and other states are moving towards EBFM in order to balance food production and security with wider ecosystem concerns. However fishing is only one of several competing sectors operating within the ocean environment for renewable and non-renewable resources that overlap in a limited space. Other sectors include marine mining and energy generation, recreation, transport and conservation. Trade-offs between the cost and benefits and impacts of these competing sectors are already part of the process but attempts to detail how the seas are being utilised have been primarily based on compilations of data on human activity at large spatial scales. Advances due to satellite and shipping data enable the investigation of factors influencing scallop fishers' choice of fishing grounds at a spatial scale relevant to their decision-making, including the presence of other sectors operating in the eastern English Channel.


The results indicate that aggregate mining activity, maritime traffic, increased fishing costs, and the English inshore 6 nautical mile and French 12 mile nautical limits negatively impact fishers' likelihood of fishing in areas which would otherwise be suitable. Habit, expected revenues predispose fishers to use areas.

The results from the random utility model can be interpreted by the direction of the model coefficients. For instance there were negative coefficients for costs, maritime traffic and aggregate activity and French 12 mile limit as such impact fishing operations. In contrast to positive coefficients for past success (previous effort at a location) expected net revenues (value per unit effort), which have positive effect on the choice of fishing grounds. The results are particularly important to vectors because the spatial planning and regulation of the increasing human activities and pressures at sea are becoming a concern, especially given that some resources are limited in space and quantity. Since 2008, the European Union has placed a responsibility on member states to achieve common principles based on the “Roadmap for spatial planning” (EC, 2008), which falls under the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP; EC, 2007), and is gener ally referred to as Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP). The objectives of MSP are to manage anthropogenic activities in space and time, precluding or minimising conflicts between competing sectors without negatively impacting the ecosystem, operating within the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MFSD; EC, 2008).

Relevance for Policy:
  • Common Fisheries Policy
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Integrated European Maritime Policy (IMP)
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Lead Author:

Alex Tidd
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
Date of research: December 2013

Related articles:

Modelling hotspots of change in the North Sea 

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

Connectivity: plaice spawning and nursery areas 

Dogger Bank: stakeholder and policy-maker needs 

Fish distributions and spatial management measures 

Marine environmental management in Catalonia 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
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