Implications of using alternative methods of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data analysis to describe fishing activities and impacts

Gwladys I. Lambert*, Simon Jennings, Jan Geert Hiddink, Niels T. Hintzen, Hilmar Hinz, Michel J. Kaiser, Lee G. Murray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the spatial distribution and intensity of fishing activity is a prerequisite for estimating fishing impacts on seabed biota and habitats. Vessel monitoring system data provide information on fishing activity at large spatial scales. However, successive position records can be too infrequent to describe the complex movements fishing vessels make. High-frequency position data were collected to evaluate how polling frequency and the method of analysis influenced the estimates of fishing impact on the seabed and associated epifaunal communities. Comparisons of known positions with predictions from track interpolation revealed that the performance of interpolation depended on fleet behaviour. Descriptions and indicators of fishing intensity were influenced significantly by the analytical methods (track reconstruction, density of position records) and grid-cell resolution used for the analysis. These factors can lead to an underestimation of fishing impact on epifaunal communities. It is necessary to correct for such errors to quantify the effects of fishing on various ecosystem components and hence to inform ecosystem-based management. Polling at intervals of 30 min would provide a desirable compromise between achieving precise estimates of fishing impacts on the seabed and minimizing the cost of data collection and handling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-693
Number of pages12
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


  • ecosystem-based management
  • fishing impact
  • otter trawl
  • scallop dredging
  • sessile benthic invertebrates
  • VMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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