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Does local cessation of fishery alter soft-bottom communities of the North Sea?

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Citation:
Dannheim, J. and Schröder, A. (2004): Does local cessation of fishery alter soft-bottom communities of the North Sea? , 39th European Marine Biology Symposium, 21-24 July, Genoa, Italy. .
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Abstract:

The North Sea is one of the worlds most intensively fished areas and commercial trawling has over years had a considerable influence on the bottom itself and the macrozoobenthic community as previous studies have shown. As a new approach, we now have the opportunity to study the development or restoration of macrozoobenthic communities after the local cessation of fishery, as up to now there have not been soft bottom areas permanently closed for fishing in the German EEZ (exclusive economic zone).In July 2003 the research platform FINO 1 was installed for preliminary studies for offshore windfarms. The surrounding of the platform, within a radius of 500 m, is closed to all shipping activities and consequently for bottom trawling. The construction of the platform provides a unique opportunity to study the faunal development after the cessation of fishing activity. The development of the fauna in the non-fished area will be compared with that in the normally fished area nearby. To avoid the influence of the platform itself, a minimum distance of 150 m was kept for all sampling methods. Direct effects of the structure should be restricted to a maximum distance of 50 100 m and are studied in the project BeoFINO (poster from T. Joschko).The study area is located in the southern German Bight at the 30 m depth line north of the island of Borkum. The area is exposed to a high level of fishing activity, as it lays just outside the plaice box.In- and epifauna are studied by grab samples, beamtrawl, underwater photography and video. First estimations about the spatial distribution and intensity of fishing activities have been carried out by side-scan surveys, supplemented by satellite data on local trawling intensity. Preliminary results of epifauna and infauna show the situation as a status quo before the platform was built. The further development of the benthic community, its structure and diversity will be observed and investigated.The presented study is part of the EU-Programme RESPONSE (Response of benthic communities and sediment to different regimens of fishing disturbance in European coastal waters). Within the project RESPONSE parallel studies with similar approaches are carried out in the North Sea, Irish Sea, Adriatic Sea and the Catalan Sea.The project aims at providing new perspectives and management options to assure sustainable fishery and protection of biodiversity of marine soft bottom communities in order to move towards an ecosystem-based management in fisheries.

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