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Experimental otter trawling on a sandy bottom ecosystem of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland : analysis of trawl bycatch and effects on epifauna
An experimental study of the effects of otter trawling was conducted in a deep (120 to 146 m) sandy bottom ecosystem of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland from 1993 to 1995. Each year, three 13 km long corridors were trawled 12 times within 31 to 34 h with an Engel 145 otter trawl equipped with rockhopper foot gear. The width of the disturbance zones created was on the order of 120 to 250 m. The total biomass of invertebrate bycatch in the trawl decreased significantly over the 12 sets, even though only a very small proportion of the biomass present was removed and each set did not pass over exactly the same area of seabed. An influx of scavenging snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio into the trawled corridors was observed after the first 6 sets (approximately 10 to 12 h). Benthic organisms in trawled and nearby reference corridors were sampled with an epibenthic sled. Their biomass was on average 24% lower in trawled corridors than in reference corridors. At the species level, this biomass difference was significant for snow crabs C. opilio, sand dollars Echinarachnius parma, brittle stars Ophiura sarsi, sea urchins Strongylocentrotus pallidus and soft corals Gersemia sp. The reduced biomass of epibenthic organisms in trawled corridors is thought to be due to several interacting factors including direct removal by the trawl, mortality, damage, predation and migration. The homogeneity of the macro-invertebrate community collected by epibenthic sled was lower in trawled corridors. Sand
ISSN : 0171-8630
Marine ecology. Progress series (Halstenbek) A. 1999, vol. 181, pp. 107-124 [bibl. : 1 p.1/2]
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