MEPS - Vol. 311 - Feature article

Fishing gears like this abandoned scallop dredge consistently have the most negative effects on seabed organisms and habitats. Photo: Michel Kaiser

Kaiser MJ, Clarke KR, Hinz H, Austen MCV, Somerfield PJ, Karakassis I

 

Global analysis of response and recovery of benthic biota to fishing

 

Understanding the effects of fishing on habitats is important when considering ecosystem-based approaches to management. A meta-analysis of 101 experimental fishing impact studies from around the world revealed that the response of organisms varied according to the habitat and fishing gear studied. In general, organisms in those habitats that typically experience high levels of natural disturbance recovered within months, while those found in reefs of living organisms had recovery times measured in years. Suspension feeding organisms were most negatively impacted by scallop dredging across all habitats studied, while their response to other fishing gears was much more habitat specific. This study provides a quantitative basis for understanding the sustainability of different fishing activities according to the resilience of the habitat in question.

 

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