Canada and other nations are moving towards an ecosystem approach to management of human activities in the sea. For fisheries, this includes consideration of how fishing activities may affect the seafloor and benthic flora/fauna, among other things. Canada’s position is that all activities should be managed such that the resource is sustainable. In particular:
ecologically significant or vulnerable species and habitats should be given enhanced protection, with the nature of that protection matched to the type of activities, the ecological scale of the habitat feature or the benthic community, and the characteristics that make the feature or community significant or vulnerable. [View PDF]
Understanding the impact of mobile gears on the seafloor and benthos requires an understanding of the location and extent of benthic habitat features (seafloor characteristics, energy regime), the location and extent of benthic communities (flora/fauna) and the location and extent of pre-existing perturbation due to mobile gears.
The NL Seabed Atlas, maintained by the School of Ocean Technology of the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, presents a geo-referenced compilation of various seabed parameters as the basis for a better understanding of the benthic habitat in Newfoundland and Labrador waters.