German North Sea Small-scale Fisheries

The Agent-based Model (ABM) of the German North Sea Small-scale Fisheries is a Social-Ecological Systems (SES) model focussing on the adaptive behaviour of fishers facing regulatory, economic, and resource changes. Small-scale fisheries are an important part both of the cultural perception of the German North Sea coast and of its fishing industry. These fisheries are typically family-run operations that use smaller boats and traditional fishing methods to catch a variety of bottom-dwelling species, including plaice, sole, brown shrimp. Fisheries in the North Sea face area competition with other uses of the sea – long practiced ones like shipping, gas exploration and sand extractions, and currently increasing ones like marine protection and offshore wind farming (OWF). German authorities have just released a new maritime spatial plan implementing the need for 30% of protection areas demanded by XXX and allowing up to 70 GW of offshore wind power generation. Fisheries in the North Sea also have to adjust to the northward migration of their established resources following the climate heating of the water. And they have to re-evaluate their economic balance by figuring in the foreseeable rise in oil price and the need for re-investing into their aged fleet.

The purpose of this ABM is to provide an interactive simulation environment that describes spatial, temporal and structural adaptations of the fleet. It adaptively describes

  • where to fish and how far to go out to sea
  • how often to go out
  • what gear to use and what species to target

Its scope is the German North sea small-scale fisheries. This encompasses some 300 vessels based in German ports along the North Sea coast and fishing in the German Bight, including but not restricted to Germany’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The target species is currently restricted to the most important ones: plaice, sole and brown shrimp, but is in principle extensible to further target species like Norwegian lobster or whiting. The intended audience of the ABM are marine researchers and government agencies concerned with spatial planning, environmental status assessment, and climate change mitigation. It can also assist in a stakeholder dialogue with tourism and fishers to contextualize the complexity of the interactions between fisheries economics, changing resources and regulatory restrictions. It is intended to be used for scenario development for future sustainable fisheries at the German North Sea coast.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at