Exploring the relationship between static fishing gear, fishing effort, and benthic biodiversity: a systematic review protocol

Hannah Fennell*, Marija Sciberras, Jan Geert Hiddink, Michel J. Kaiser, Eric Gilman, David Donnan, Rory Crawford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Background and objectives: The environmental effects of static gear fishing include habitat-level effects such as permanent changes to the physical environment and the structure of the benthic and epibenthic communities. Ecosystems subjected to prolonged exposure to pressure from static gear may undergo permanent changes and may never regain their prior ‘unfished’ state even if the fishing pressure is removed entirely. These long-term changes to physical structure of benthic habitats have implications for benthic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Despite this, the understanding of habitat and static fishing gear interactions is limited- with most studies focusing on the impact of mobile fishing gear. The rise of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), where managers and decision-makers manage target species within their environmental context while protecting essential ecosystem services and components, has led to an increased demand for ecosystem-level reference points. A systematic review could provide clarification on the short and long-term impacts of commercial static gear fishing on benthic community diversity.

Methods: This review will examine primary studies on the relationship between static fishing gear, intensity, and benthic biodiversity to answer the primary question ‘How do different types of static fishing gear affect benthic species richness and abundance?’. A structured search will be conducted in English. The search terms used to find relevant data to answer the research question were chosen specifically for this review and were generated using the R package litsearchr. Captured articles will be screened against pre-defined eligibility criteria. The internal and external validity of remaining studies will be classified using a pre-defined framework. Studies meeting validity will be used for data extraction. Data to be extracted includes data on study design, intervention, study results, habitat and geographical context. Outcome data (such as sample sizes, means and measures of variation such as confidence intervals, standard deviations, and standard errors) will also be extracted. Information on effect modifiers will also be collected where available as well as metadata on study methodologies and general article identifiers. Data will be used for both narrative and quantitative synthesis techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalEnvironmental Evidence
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • Environmental impact
  • Fisheries
  • Pots
  • Seabed
  • Seafloor
  • Static gear
  • Traps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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