Trawling on seamounts: effects on corals

By Jennifer Dean,
Marine Conservation student

Have you ever wondered how your seafood is caught?  Many of the species commonly consumed by humans, such as cod, flounder, and shrimp, are caught by a method called bottom trawling (  Bottom trawling is a large scale fishing method that has been used for many years, consisting of dragging a large net or nets along the seafloor to scoop up fish that live near the bottom.  Unfortunately, this method is not very ecosystem-friendly.  Most trawl nets include heavy wooden or metal frames to keep the nets open, and these frames drag along the bottom, creating troughs, re-suspending sediment, and damaging organisms.  Recently people have begun to realize just how devastating these impacts can be on seafloor habitats.  In fact, just this past September it was shown that bottom trawling severely alters the ocean floor through smoothing of the local topography (Puig et al. 2012).  One ocean habitat that has been heavily impacted by bottom trawling is that of seamounts.

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