Effects of scallop dredging on temperate reef fauna

Hilmar Hinz, D. Tarrant, A. Ridgeway, M. J. Kaiser, Jan G. Hiddink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Scallop dredging is considered to be one of the most destructive bottom fisheries, yet empirical field evidence to support this assertion, in particular for highly structured habitats, is limited. With this study, we investigated the effects of scallop dredging on the fauna of a temperate stony reef through a comparison of areas subject to different levels of fishing activity. Significant negative effects of scallop dredging were evident for 3 of the 9 species analyzed from video samples. Sessile emergent epifaunal species had significantly lower occurrences and abundances at fished sites compared to unfished sites, while commercial target species such as scallops and crabs were not significantly affected by fishing. Contrary to expectation, the pink sea fan Eunicella verrucosa, a species of local conservation concern, did not show a significant negative response with respect to abundance and average body size to the intensity of scallop dredging it had been subjected to. The absence of a clearly detectable fishing effect on this species may be related to its association with the topographically more complex areas of the reef in which the fishing efficiency of scallop dredges will be reduced. The evidence presented here demonstrates that not all species were equally affected by scallop dredging and that the complexity of stony reef habitats may provide some measure of protection at low fishing intensities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Dredging
  • Emergent epifauna
  • Eunicella verrucosa
  • Fisheries management
  • Fishing impacts
  • Marine protected areas
  • Rocky reef
  • Scallop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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