Selecting MPAs to conserve ground fish biodiversity: the consequences of failing to account for catchability in survey trawls

H.M. Fraser, S.P.R. Greenstreet, G.J. Piet

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Fishing has affected North Sea ground fish species diversity. De. ning Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to address this will rely on ground fish surveys. Species-specific catch efficiencies vary between trawl gears, and apparent species diversity distributions are influenced by the type of gear used in each survey. It may be that no single survey depicts actual diversity distributions. Two MPA scenarios designed to protect ground fish species diversity are described, the first based on unadjusted International Bottom Trawl Survey data and the second based on the same data adjusted to take account of catchability. Spatial overlap between these scenarios is low. Assuming that the adjusted data best describe the actual species diversity distribution, the level of diversity safeguarded by MPAs, based on unadjusted data, is determined. A fishing effort redistribution model is used to estimate the increase in fishing activity that is likely to occur in MPAs that take catchability into account, if closed areas based solely on the unadjusted ground fish data were implemented. Our results highlight the need to take survey-gear catchability into account when designating MPAs to address fish-species diversity issues
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-89
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • marine protected areas
  • north-sea fish
  • fisheries management
  • community structure
  • ecosystem approach
  • species-diversity
  • adjacent fishery
  • reef fishes
  • long-term
  • reserves

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