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Effects of bottom trawling on the Ebro continental shelf sedimentary system (NW Mediterranean)

November 4, 2013

A monitoring effort to address the physical effects of bottom trawling was conducted on the Ebro prodeltaic mud belt during the RESPONSE project. The monitoring was carried out for 14 months covering periods of different trawling intensities and a close season for the trawling fleet. The seabed morphology was studied by side-scan sonar and sediment texture and organic carbon content were analyzed. Suspended sediment vertical distribution was recorded by CTD+turbidity hydrographic profiles and sediment transport was computed using time series from moored turbidimeters and current meters. The results show that the seabed of the fishing ground is strongly affected by scraping and ploughing induced by bottom trawling. Part of the finer fraction of the prodeltaic mud resuspended by trawling is winnowed, increasing the silt content of the settling sediment and also near-bottom turbidity. Sediment resuspended by trawling is incorporated in the bottom nepheloid layer and transported across- and along-shelf, increasing sediment fluxes. Trawling also induces an increase in the organic carbon content in the bottom sediment. All these effects induced by trawling have occurred during the last few decades, changing natural conditions in the fishing ground.

Palanques A, Puig P, Guillén J, Demestre M, Martín J, Effects of bottom trawling on the Ebro continental shelf sedimentary system (NW Mediterranean), Continental Shelf Research, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2013.10.008. Article.

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