Recent advances in understanding the environmental footprint of trawling on the seabed

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8 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


Bottom trawling accounts for nearly a quarter of wild-capture seafood production, but it is associated with physical disturbance of the seabed leading to changes in benthic abundance, habitat structure, and biogeochemical processes. Understanding the processes of benthic depletion and recovery in relation to different types of fishing gears, and in different seabed types, is an important pre-requisite to inform appropriate management measures to limit or reduce the effects of trawling on the seabed. The combined approaches of meta-analysis and modelling that link fishing-gear penetration of the seabed to benthic depletion, and recovery to taxon longevity, have enabled the development of a modelling framework to estimate relative benthic status in areas subject to trawling. Such estimations are highly sensitive to the spatial resolution at which fishing footprint (trawl track) data are aggregated, and this leads to overinflated estimates of fishing impacts on benthos when coarse-level aggregation is applied. These approaches present a framework into which other “sustainability” criteria can be added, e.g., the consideration of carbon footprints of fishing activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-762
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number9
Early online date27 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Benthos
  • Ecosystem management
  • Recovery model
  • Seabed disturbance
  • Trawling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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