Estimating fishing effort from highly resolved geospatial data: focusing on passive gears

T. Mendo*, G. Glemarec, J. Mendo, E. Hjorleifsson, S. Smout, S. Northridge, J. Rodriguez, A. Mujal-Colilles, M. James

*Corresponding author for this work

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Increasing competition for marine space requires the appropriate development of indicators to best represent the use of marine areas and the value (whether economic, social and/or cultural) derived from such use. Fishers (the largest group of users) are often under-represented in marine spatial planning processes. Highly-resolved vessel tracking data provide opportunities to map the activities of fishing vessels at a level of detail never before available. Most effort mapping methods have focused on active gears such as trawls or dredges in large scale fisheries. For these fisheries, the time spent fishing at sea (hours) is usually a representative indicator of fishing effort, enabling a straightforward mapping of the most important fishing grounds. However, for passive gears generally used in small-scale fisheries, we show that spatial indicators of effort (here, length of vessel track) greatly outperform time-at-sea as an indicator of fishing effort. We further demonstrate and validate a method to estimate gear soak time from vessel tracking data and show how maps of effort that account for soak time can be different from those solely based on time spent fishing at sea. The development of adequate methods to quantify the spatial distribution of passive gear effort is particularly relevant to fisheries management because globally about a fifth of all catches (by weight) are landed by passive gears. Appropriate, fine scale effort maps will provide better tools for spatial planning to support sustainable fishing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110822
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Indicators
Early online date24 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Vessel tracking
  • Static gears
  • Electronic reporting
  • Spatial analysis
  • Small-scale fisheries


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