Impact of experimental trawling on the benthic assemblage along the Tuscany coast

The impact of repeated experimental otter trawling, in the north Tyrrhenian Sea (Mediterranean) was investigated using a spatially replicated sampling design. Macroscopic modifications of the seabed morphology were assessed by sidescan sonar. Alterations of the
sediment texture and changes in macrobenthic infauna were assessed using a box-corer. The most obvious modifications of the seabed were trawl tracks caused by the passage of trawl doors through the sediments. Ephemeral but significant changes in the sediment composition were observed. Changes in the benthic assemblage were detected only 48 h after experimental trawling. The clearest changes were detected in the molluscan component. The present study suggests that recovery from trawling may take place within one month.  2004 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: fishing impact, grain size, molluscs, north Tyrrhenian Sea, soft bottoms, trawling.

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