Acute impacts of bottom trawl gears on benthic metabolism and nutrient cycling

Published on Apr 21, 2019in Ices Journal of Marine Science3.367
· DOI :10.1093/icesjms/fsz060
Justin C Tiano1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UGent: Ghent University),
Rob Witbaard17
Estimated H-index: 17
(UU: Utrecht University)
+ 4 AuthorsKarline Soetaert53
Estimated H-index: 53
(UGent: Ghent University)
Research on the environmental impacts of bottom fishing gears has focused mainly on structural characteristics of benthic habitats such as faunal composition and the physical features of the seafloor. This study focuses more on functional characteristics by addressing the biogeochemical consequences associated with tickler chain beam trawl and electric PulseWing trawl gears. In June 2017, professional fishermen trawled experimental transects with both types of gears in the Frisian Front area of the North Sea. Box core sediment samples and in situ landers were used to evaluate biogeochemical fluxes and sediment characteristics in untrawled and trawled areas (samples taken 3.5–70 h after fishing). A reduction of sedimentary chlorophyll a was observed, which was larger following tickler chain (83%) compared to PulseWing trawling (43%). This displacement of surface material caused significant decreases in the sediment oxygen consumption in tickler chain (41%) and PulseWing trawled samples (33%) along with a deeper penetration of oxygen in the sediment (tickler chain: 3.78 mm, PulseWing: 3.17 mm) compared to untrawled areas (2.27 mm). Our research implies that bottom trawl disturbance can lead to immediate declines in benthic community metabolism, with tickler chain trawling exhibiting more prominent alterations than PulseWing trawling on benthic biogeochemical processes.
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This study was part-funded by the EU FP 7 project BENTHIS (grant no. 312088). It does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission and does not anticipate the Commission’s future policy in this area. We are grateful for the logistic support of VLIZ, the fishermen of TX43 and TX29 and crew members of RV ISIS and RV Simon Stevin during the sea trials and NIOZ for the use of their box corer. ADR and LRT were partly supported by the project “Impact assessment pulsvisserij”. We are in...
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