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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 307:85-100 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps307085

Impact of limited short-term sea scallop fishery on epibenthic community of Georges Bank closed areas

Kevin D. E. Stokesbury*, Bradley P. Harris

School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 706 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744-1221, USA

ABSTRACT: On Georges Bank, 2 areas that had been closed to sea scallop fishing since 1994 were opened for a limited harvest from August 2000 to February 2001. The effects of this limited short-term fishery on the epibenthic community were examined using a ‘before/after, control/impact’ environmental design conducted with video surveys. A centric systematic survey with 1379 stations placed on a 1.57 km grid, with 4 video quadrats collected at each station (3.235 m2 per quadrat equaling 17789 m2 total sample area), was completed in 2 control and 2 impact areas before and after the fishery. The sea scallops Placopecten magellanicus and starfishes (primarily Asterias vulgaris) comprised more than 84% of the fauna. Changes in the number of taxonomic categories and the density of individuals within each category in the areas impacted by the fishery were similar to changes in the control areas that remained closed to fishing. Further, sediment composition shifted between surveys more than epibenthic faunal composition, suggesting that this community is adapted to a dynamic environment. The limited short-term sea scallop fishery on Georges Bank appeared to alter the epibenthic community less than the natural dynamic environmental conditions.

KEY WORDS: Sea scallop · Video · Georges Bank · Fishing impact · Before/after, control/impact BACI · Closed areas

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