Quantifying the resuspension of nutrients and sediment by demersal trawling

Breimann, Sarah A.; O'Neill, Finbarr G.; Summerbell, Keith; Mayor, Daniel J. ORCID: 2021 Quantifying the resuspension of nutrients and sediment by demersal trawling. Continental Shelf Research, 233. 104628.

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Demersal fisheries trawling is widely acknowledged as one of the most intense forms of widespread benthic disturbance, resuspending extensive plumes of sediments and dissolved nutrients. However, difficulties associated with sampling within trawl plumes have hitherto limited our quantitative understanding of these widespread phenomena. This lack of knowledge hinders our ability to understand the broader consequences of demersal trawling and the development of new fishing gears to limit benthic disturbance. Here we present data from a series of novel in situ experiments using a specially designed trawl sled to quantitatively examine how trawl gear-induced drag and pressure influence the height and concentrations of resuspended sediments and nutrients within a trawl plume. Our data demonstrate that the composition of resuspended particles and sampled nutrients are both influenced by sampling height above the seafloor and the amount of drag exerted by the trawl gear (p < 0.001 in all cases), although the relative importance of these factors differed between the response variables examined. These differences likely reflect that sediment particles are more influenced by gravity than dissolved nutrients are. Our results demonstrate that trawl gear specification strongly influences the amount of dissolved and particulate material resuspended, suggesting that their design could be modified to reduce impacts on benthic ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 02784343
Date made live: 25 Jan 2022 18:04 +0 (UTC)

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