November 28, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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An underwater life hotspot discovered in the Belgian North Sea under the world's busiest shipping route

An underwater life hotspot discovered in the Belgian North Sea under the world’s busiest shipping route

Indeed, the regional maps of the fishing intensity in the study area, which includes the activity of the Belgian, French, Danish, German, Dutch and British fleets, turned out to be not only a marine life hotspot, but also a fishing hotspot, with the area being fished more than five days a year.

However, a more detailed examination of local fishing patterns showed that these activities are mostly limited to the use of passive fishing gear and the water column, with only a small amount of fishing affecting the bottom.

This indicates that the busy shipping path may play a protective role against disturbing bottom fishing activities, allowing the model fauna to evolve.

The discovery was made in one of the three research areas for soil protection identified in the 2020-2026 Marine Spatial Plan for Health, Food Chain Safety and the Environment. In these research areas, it is possible to create areas where the integrity of the soil is protected, something that is currently being worked on. The goal is to protect valuable natural elements by allowing only fishing techniques that do not disturb the sea floor.

The scientific results of the detailed stratigraphy of natural gravel and environmental analysis are summarized in a 2021 article published in Remote Sensing magazine† In this study, underwater acoustics and videography were combined to map habitat distribution and study the effect of rock size on its colonization by model animals.

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