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Marine Natural Capital Accounting: Impacts of the Sandeel Fishery in the North Sea

6 July 2022

Marine Natural Capital Accounting: Impacts of the Sandeel Fishery in the North Sea

Enhancing natural capital is a core element of the UK Government 25 Year Environment Plan (YEP). As such, we need to understand how we can enhance natural capital to achieve the ambition of providing multiple benefits to people and wildlife.

This webinar will demonstrate how Jo and Natalya conducted a practical exploration of integrating ecological and economic evidence. To do this, they used modelled ecological data using Ecopath with Ecosim to populate an extended balance sheet for the North Sea Area IV and the impact of the industrial sandeel fishery.

This project uses the extended balance sheet approach to produce a baseline value of the benefits provided by the North Sea ecosystem and will then apply a scenario analysis of different levels of fishing activity to measure the impact that changes to the activities of the industrial sandeel fishery could have on the natural capital assets, services, and benefits.

Key results from the preliminary Ecopath with Ecosim outputs show that with a full closure of the sandeel fishery sandeel biomass increases by 40%, the biomass of fish that eat sandeels increases by 20% but fish that do not eat sandeels reduces by 4%. There is an upward trend in the biomass of marine mammals and seabirds, with a 42% increase in seabird population within the first 10 – 15 years of a closed fishery.

When we combine this data with economic data the overall value of the North Sea Area IV fish landings is worth £240 million more after 60 years than it would be if the sandeel fishery remained open. This combined with other benefits results in an increased value of 0.8% for the North Sea ecosystem. Furthermore, it is expected that the monetary value of the unquantified benefits would be very large; this would include values for biodiversity, education, nature-based recreation, and equable climate.

About Jo Bayes
Jo is a marine natural capital senior specialist at Natural England. She works on projects that combine ecological, economic, and social science data that can be developed to be used as evidence to make better management and policy decisions with the aim of enhancing our marine environment both for nature itself and for people. Jo has worked at Natural England for 8 years. Natural England is the government’s statutory adviser on the natural environment and our purpose is to conserve, enhance, and manage the natural environment for the current and future generations. My background is in marine biology, ecological evolution, and marine and fisheries management.

About Natalya Kharadi
Natalya Kharadi is an environmental economist and Senior Consultant at eftec. Since joining eftec in 2017 she has been involved in over 40 projects, with a focus on natural capital accounting and economic valuation in the public, private and third sector. She has contributed to the research and development of national ecosystem accounts for British Overseas Territories, and organisational natural capital accounts in the water, forest, and transport sectors across the UK.

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