Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.


European fisheries are incredibly diverse ranging from highly industrialised distant-water pelagic fleets to small-scale artisanal fisheries that typically operate near the coast, especially in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Member States in the south represent over half of the total tonnage but around three-quarters of the number of vessels, owing to the predominance of smaller vessels in this region1.

Currently, many EU fish stocks are exploited at levels well in excess of their maximum sustainable yield, in other words the optimal volume of catches that can be taken each year without threatening the future reproductive capacity of a fish stock. 21% of stocks in the Baltic Sea and 44% in the North Sea are considered to be fished beyond ‘safe biological limits’ (SBL). In the Mediterranean, the percentage of stocks outside SBL ranges from 44% to 78%, with the Adriatic Sea considered to be in the worst condition2.

Fishing is one of the most widespread pressures in the marine environment. Intensive fishing pressure can be a major driver or vector of change in marine ecosystems, resulting through the removal of fish and shellfish biomass, in change or even disruption to food webs, or in damage to sensitive habitats.

A major focus of interest in the VECTORS project has been set on fisheries, both in terms of understanding the impact that fishing pressure can have on ecosystems but also how commercial fisheries are themselves impacted by other drivers of change, such as the introduction of non-native species or long-term climate change.

Through the reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), implemented on January 1st 2014, an important policy driver changed during the life time of VECTORS3.

VECTORS research focus:

  1. To develop an integrative, cross-sectoral modelling framework that allows evaluation of the costs and trade-offs of maintaining economic activity in various sectors while protecting natural resources.
  2. To model economic implications of changes in geographic distribution of fish stocks for fishing fleets, using a spatial economic model.
  3. To produce risk assessments for fisheries management.
  4. To perform fish market analyses to forecast possible future consumer reactions on changing species compositions in catches.


Lead Author

John Pinnegar and Anne Sell

Explore other research themes under the categories below:

The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Legal  |   Privacy & Cookies