On effects of trawling, benthos and sampling design

John S. Gray*, Paul Dayton, Simon Thrush, Michel J. Kaiser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The evidence for the wider effects of fishing on the marine ecosystem demands that we incorporate these considerations into our management of human activities. The consequences of the direct physical disturbance of the seabed caused by towed bottom-fishing gear have been studied extensively with over 100 manipulations reported in the peer-reviewed literature. The outcome of these studies varies according to the gear used and the habitat in which it was deployed. This variability in the response of different benthic systems concurs with established theoretical models of the response of community metrics to disturbance. Despite this powerful evidence, a recent FAO report wrongly concludes that the variability in the reported responses to fishing disturbance mean that no firm conclusion as to the effects of fishing disturbance can be made. This thesis is further supported (incorrectly) by the supposition that current benthic sampling methodologies are inadequate to demonstrate the effects of fishing disturbance on benthic systems. The present article addresses these two erroneous conclusions which may confuse non-experts and in particular policy-makers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-843
Number of pages4
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


  • BACI design
  • Benthic disturbance
  • Benthic trawling
  • Dredging
  • Fisheries impacts
  • Statistical errors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Pollution


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