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.

Validating fleet dynamics models: an interview-based approach

Structured and semi-structured surveys were administered to fishers in the Eastern English Channel and the German Bight in order to understand their behaviour in greater detail. Fleet dynamics models tell us where fishers are going, but not why. This research provided greater insight into the "why." Specifically, the survey was designed to gain insight into why fishers choose to fish in certain areas, understand how other stakeholders and events may impact their own actions in the case study areas, as well as to understand how they choose to respond to these pressures. Overall, the French fishers in Boulogne go to the closest fishing grounds available to them. In the German Bight, fishers are more constrained in where and how they can fish, compared to ten years previously due to closed areas, offshore windfarms and oil rigs and technical measures.


Fishers feel they are left out of the decision-making process on spatial usage of the seas. Good governance of the seas must include true and equitable stakeholder participation in order for it to be considered legitimate.

The majority of respondents and interviewees expect an increase in spatial conflicts in the future. They are concerned that they have neither a say nor any real influence on the way the seas will be used in the future. A key point of VECTORS is to improve our understanding of how man made factors are impacting marine ecosystems now and how they will do so in the future. Consequently, insight and understanding into the social and policies spheres is vital. In the German Bight, closed areas, offshore windfarms, and Natura 2000 sites are shrinking fishable-areas, pushing fishers to increase fishing effort in other areas. In the Eastern English Channel, though more cross-stakeholder and transboundary dialogues are taking place, they are feeling pressure from outside fishers as will as fear an increase in aggregate dredging. All believe pressure on the busy seas will increase.


Fishers in the German Bight must adapt their fishing pattern. It is crowded now and less safe; they earn less and catch fewer species. Increasingly busy seas, especially with increased renewable energy activities and marine conservation were seen as the primary threats to their ability to fish in the future.

Spatial competition impacts for German bight fishers on income; fishing pattern; catch composition; length of trip; gear use; and job satisfaction. For the Boulogne fishermen this is not the case. Both Dutch and French fishermen fear an increase in competition for space though.

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

Lead Author:

Alyne Delaney
Aalborg University (IFM - AAU)
Date of research: May 2014

Related articles:

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

Climate change: flatfish and shrimp fisheries 

Connectivity: plaice spawning and nursery areas 

Deliberative valuation and the Dogger Bank 

Modelling hotspots of change in the North Sea 

The main drivers of fishers' behaviour

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The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.