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Trawling for evidence: An ecosystem-based multi-method trawling impact assessment

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ashleigh Tinlin-Mackenzie, Dr Heather Sugden, Dr Catherine Scott, Dr Robert Kennedy, Professor Clare Fitzsimmons



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2023 The Authors. Robust methods for assessing fisheries impacts are required to support evidence-based management and contribute to the assessment of protected areas. Under marine policies, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, effective management requires an understanding of impacts at the fisheries scale and needs to account for the responses of various benthic components. This study investigated the impacts of trawling for Nephrops and whitefish along the Northeast England coast, comparing, and assessing benthic communities and habitats at muddy sediment sites across a gradient of fishing pressure. An ecosystem-based sampling approach assessed macrofauna, meiofauna, and sediment characteristics by combining traditional and innovative methods, conducting a balanced assessment of the north-east England trawl fishery. Combining multiple methods effectively highlighted contrasting trends between infaunal size classes. Significant negative impacts of trawling pressure were observed on macrofauna and meiofauna richness, diversity, and community composition, and sediment compaction and oxygenation. Key metrics were comparatively assessed for their suitability for the detection of benthic disturbance, with recommendations discussed in relation to future monitoring.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tinlin-Mackenzie A, Sugden H, Scott CL, Kennedy R, Fitzsimmons C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Fisheries Research

Year: 2023

Volume: 268

Print publication date: 01/12/2023

Online publication date: 19/09/2023

Acceptance date: 15/09/2023

Date deposited: 03/10/2023

ISSN (print): 0165-7836

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6763

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.fishres.2023.106858


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Funder referenceFunder name
ENG2731Marine Management Organisation (MMO)