Indirect effects of bottom fishing on the productivity of marine fish

Jeremy Collie*, Jan Geert Hiddink, Tobias van Kooten, Adriaan D. Rijnsdorp, Michel J. Kaiser, Simon Jennings, Ray Hilborn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One quarter of marine fish production is caught with bottom trawls and dredges on continental shelves around the world. Towed bottom-fishing gears typically kill 20-50 per cent of the benthic invertebrates in their path, depending on gear type, substrate and vulnerability of particular taxa. Particularly vulnerable are epifaunal species, which stabilize the sediment and provide habitat for benthic invertebrates. To identify the habitats, fisheries or target species most likely to be affected, we review evidence of the indirect effects of bottom fishing on fish production. Recent studies have found differences in the diets of certain species in relation to bottom fishing intensity, thereby linking demersal fish to their benthic habitats at spatial scales of ~10 km. Bottom fishing affects diet composition and prey quality rather than the amount of prey consumed; scavenging of discarded by-catch makes only a small contribution to yearly food intake. Flatfish may benefit from light trawling levels on sandy seabeds, while higher-intensity trawling on more vulnerable habitats has a negative effect. Models suggest that reduction in the carrying capacity of habitats by bottom fishing could lead to lower equilibrium yield and a lower level of fishing mortality to obtain maximum yield. Trawling effort is patchily distributed - small fractions of fishing grounds are heavily fished, while large fractions are lightly fished or unfished. This patchiness, coupled with the foraging behaviour of demersal fish, may mitigate the indirect effects of bottom fishing on fish productivity. Current research attempts to scale up these localized effects to the population level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-637
JournalFish and Fisheries
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Beam trawls
  • Benthic disturbance
  • Dredges
  • Fish yield
  • Otter trawl

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  • Projects

    BENTHIS: Benthic ecosystem fisheries Impact Study

    1/10/1230/09/17

    Project: EU research project

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