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A multi-scale approach in the study of trawling-induced impact on the seafloor. Examples from the EU ISLAND Project

AuthorsLo Iacono, Claudio CSIC ORCID; Puig, Pere CSIC ORCID ; Paradis Vilar, Sarah; Pusceddu, Antonio; Russo, Tommaso; Masqué, Pere; ISLAND Cruise Team
Issue Date11-Feb-2018
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Citation2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting (2018)
AbstractIndustrial bottom trawl fishery is among the human activities with most impact on deep-sea ecosystems, due to its widespread geographical distribution and to its strong effects on renewable natural resources. One of the main goals of the EU Euforfleet-2 Project ISLAND (ExplorIng SiciLian CAnyoN Dynamics) was to explore the role of bottom trawling in altering the natural seafloor integrity at nested spatial and temporal scales. This holistic approach was adopted along the NW Sicilian margin (southern Mediterranean) across a depth range of 200-800 m. It spanned from the analysis of the seafloor complexity and related benthic habitats, the quantification of sedimentation rates and organic carbon content in surface sediments, up to monitoring the near-bottom water turbidity and the formation of nepheloid layers induced by on-going fishing activities. Remote sensing data and samples were collected based on the distribution of the trawling effort averaged from the VMS data (Vessel Monitoring System) analzyed over a period of 6 years (2009-2015). Selected areas with null, low and high fishing effort were explored and sampled through Multi Beam mapping, ROV dives, sediment cores, hydrographic profiling and instrumented mooring observations. Results showed a potential impact on the large scale seascape heterogeneity, smoothing the morphology of sediment-starved small scale gullies on regions undergoing the maximum effort. ROV videos showed differences in the habitat complexity between adjacent regions with different trawling effort, with impacted areas displaying a strongly reduced amount of benthic species along up to 80 cm deep trawl marks. Core analysis revealed that trawled open slope sectors present highly eroded sedimentary bottoms, significantly depleted of labile organic matter, whereas trawled submarine canyons revealed enhanced sedimentation rates due to resuspension processes generated by the trawlers. Increased water turbidity related to trawling activities was recorded both by hydrographic sections and by time series observations collected within a submarine canyon, downslope the fishing grounds. These compelling evidences suggest that sediment dynamics along the NW Sicilian margin are largely affected by bottom trawling activities, with an evident impact at different spatial and temporal scales
Description2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting, 11-16 February, in Portland, Oregon
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Appears in Collections:(ICM) Comunicaciones congresos

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