“It has long been thought that shipwrecks could be playing an important role in providing sanctuary for marine species to utilise. It is brilliant to see this proven in this study. The research provides and insight into what might be possible if bottom towed fishing activity is reduced. This feeds into our wider understanding of shipwrecks potential to contribute to ecosystem recovery and enhancement, given the sheer number found on the seabed.”
The industrial use of bottom towed fishing gear has been commonplace since the 1800s, and has significantly altered marine communities and ecosystem services. Outside of legal protection, only areas inaccessible to trawlers are offered any protection, which is why shipwreck sites are rarely subject to trawling pressure. As many have been in situ for more than 100 years, they offer a baseline of ecological potential when trawling pressure is reduced or removed.
Project Support Officer
In recent years, the UK has made significant strides in terms of measures to protect the marine environment. There is still much to be done to reach the goal of having 30% of the ocean protected by 2030, but if we are to get close to that we need detailed evidence about what makes our ocean so special and any existing initiatives that are working well. This study builds on our existing work in that regard, and highlights an impact of past human activity that is actually having a positive impact on the seabed today. It is unquestionably something that should be factored into future marine management plans.
Associate Professor of Marine Ecology and senior author on the study
Monitoring the recovery of Lyme Bay
Our researchers have pioneered a whole-site approach that supports fishing communities while meeting international conservation goals
Read more about our research in this area
- University influences new measure seeking to protect marine mammal habitats 27 February 2024
- Small but mighty – study highlights the abundance and importance of the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants 5 February 2024
- Study highlights the critical importance of uniting communities and conservation to effectively implement environmental practices 16 January 2024
- Study furthers aim of offering new insights into pollack populations 11 December 2023
- Study highlights vulnerability of England’s only resident bottlenose dolphins 29 November 2023