Food subsidies from fisheries to continental shelf benthic scavengers

Michel J. Kaiser, Jan G. Hiddink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fisheries generate carrion as a result of material discarded at sea from fishing boats, and as a result of the direct mortality of organisms on the seabed that is caused by the bottom trawling gears. It is unclear whether the increases in the population sizes in scavenging seabirds that have been partially attributed to discarding practices might be mirrored in populations of benthic scavengers. We used a previously published and field-validated, size-based model to calculate the effects of bottom fishing on benthic invertebrate production and production of invertebrate carrion at the seabed in the North Sea. This estimate was combined with previously published estimates of discarded fish carrion that reaches the seabed. Fishing decreases benthic biomass; this means that benthic production is also reduced. In this process, fishing increases production in the short term (2 to 3 d) by generating carrion. However, the production of carrion only compensates for 22 % of the reduction in production. Calculations of ash free dry weight of carrion produced per unit area were similar to other previous estimates for the North Sea, which indicated that fisheries-generated carrion was sufficient to sustain benthic carnivores for only approximately 3 d yr-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-276
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume350
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • Benthic scavengers
  • Energy subsidies
  • Fishing disturbance
  • Model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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