A review of the spatial extent of fishery effects and species vulnerability of the deep-sea demersal fish assemblage of the Porcupine Seabight, Northeast Atlantic Ocean (ICES Subarea VII)
We review information from scientific trawl surveys carried out between 1977 and 2002 in the Porcupine Seabight and Abyssal Plain area of the Northeast Atlantic (240-4865 m water depth). Since the late 1980s, commercial bottom-trawl fisheries targeting mainly roundnose grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris), black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo), and orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) have been operating at depths of 500-1500 m, intersecting the depth ranges of 77 demersal fish species that would therefore be vulnerable to fishery effects. Comparisons of trawls pre-1989 and post-1997 indicate a significant decrease in total abundance of demersal fish down to 2500 m. Detailed analyses of the 15 most-abundant species showed that nine species with depth ranges within the commercial fishing depth have decreased in abundance. Other species were either not affected (Bathypterois dubius) or only affected at the shallow end of their range (Coryphaenoides guentheri). Species with a minimum depth of occurrence >1500 m (Coryphaenoides armatus and Coryphaenoides leptolepis) increased in abundance over part of their depth range. Decreases in abundance are probably caused by commercial fishing activities, an effect that is transmitted downslope by removal of fish at the shallow end of their depth range, resulting in declines at the deeper end of the depth range. The estimated fishery area is ca. 52 000 km(2), but the potential impact probably extends to ca. 142 000 km(2) and to many non-target species.
Authors: Priede, Imants G., Godbold, Jasmin A., Niedzielski, Tomasz, Collins, Martin A., Bailey, David M., Gordon, John D.M., Zuur, Alain F.