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Effects of bottom fishing on the benthic megafauna of Georges Bank

January 1, 1997

This study addresses ongoing concerns ever the effects of mobile fishing gear on benthic communities. Using side-scan sonar, bottom photographs and fishing records, we identified a set of disturbed and undisturbed sites on the gravel pavement area of northern Georges Bank in the northwest Atlantic. Replicate samples of the megofauna were collected with a 1 m Naturalists' dredge on 2 cruises in 1994. Compared with the disturbed sites, the undisturbed sites had higher numbers of organisms, biomass, species richness and species diversity; evenness was higher at the disturbed sites. Undisturbed sites were characterized by an abundance of bushy epifaunal taxa (bryozoans, hydroids, worm tubes) that provide a complex habitat for shrimps, polychaetes, brittle stars, mussels and small fish. Disturbed sites were dominated by larger, hard-shelled molluscs, and scavenging crabs and echinoderms. Many of the megafaunal species in our samples have also been identified in stomach contents of demersal fish on Georges Bank; the abundances of at feast some of these species were reduced at the disturbed sites.

Publication Year 1997
Title Effects of bottom fishing on the benthic megafauna of Georges Bank
DOI 10.3354/meps155159
Authors J.S. Collie, G.A. Escanero, P. C. Valentine
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Ecology Progress Series
Index ID 70019700
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center