Impact Stories Area ProtectionsFishing/Activity Restrictions

U.S. West Coast: Bottom Trawling Restrictions Map

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Conservation Challenge

Bottom trawling is considered the most destructive fishing practice, since a net with heavy weights is dragged across the natural seafloor habitat, “essentially rototilling the seabed. All of the bottom-dwelling plants and animals are affected, if not outright destroyed, by tearing up root systems or animal burrows”(USGS) including ancient seabed corals.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Habitat Committee requested an illustrative map depicting where bottom trawling is restricted or prohibited along the U.S. West Coast to better understand restrictions under its jurisdiction.

Our Solution

Navigator’s data — which includes areas individually coded with key fishing gears  — made it possible to create a map of bottom-trawling restrictions within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the U.S. west coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington.

The data analysis revealed that bottom trawling is currently prohibited in approximately 279,439 square miles or 88% of the west coast EEZ, with the remaining 12%, having some restriction on use of bottom trawls, either by duration, season, or net size or type.

U.S. West Coast Bottom Trawling Restrictions MapThis map depicts the distribution of bottom trawling regulations in the U.S. west coast EEZ indicating that bottom trawl is prohibited in 88% of this marine area and restricted in the remaining 12% of the area.

U.S. West Coast Bottom Trawling Restrictions Map


With the ProtectedSeas’ Navigator, users can analyze a variety of human activities, like fishing gear to assess protections regionally or globally.

U.S. West Coast: Bottom Trawling Restrictions Map

What is Bottom Trawling?
Bottom trawling is a highly destructive fishing technique that involves dragging a net along the seafloor to catch target species such as groundfish, shrimp, and crabs. This method is known for its harmful impact on bottom-dwelling plants and animals as well as coral species. It can also have adverse effects on the marine environment and other fisheries that are commercially and recreationally important. Knowing where this type of fishing activity is prohibited or restricted can help managers discern where additional safeguards are needed.

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