Scraping the sea floor smooth

Date: October 22, 2012

Source: The New York Times

Author: Editorial

It is hard to grasp just how industrialized commercial fishing has become. You may know about the problems inherent in fish farming. You may have read some of the stunning accounts of work aboard the factory ships that catch, process and freeze fish. But there is no better way to grasp the scale of industrial fishing than to consider the impact of bottom trawling.

According to a new study published in Nature, trawlers are doing more than catching fish. Because they drag huge, heavy nets across the ocean floor, they are reshaping the bottom contours of the busiest fishing grounds. It is the equivalent of plowing a cornfield, with this difference: a farmer plows his own field once a year, but trawlers cover “the same grounds year round on a daily basis.” By disturbing sediment, they are, in essence, smoothing out the sea bottom and reducing its value as habitat. This is occurring, the authors say, not just on relatively shallow continental shelves, but on continental slopes as well.


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Posted on Categories FisheriesTags