When does fishing lead to more fish? Community consequences of bottom trawl fisheries in demersal food webs.

Date: September 4, 2013

Authors: P. Daniel van Denderen, Tobias van Kooten and Adriaan D. Rijnsdorp, Proc. R. Soc. B 2013 280, 20131883.

Bottom trawls are a globally used fishing gear that physically disturb theseabed and kill non-target organisms, including those that are food forthe targeted fish species. There are indications that ensuing changes to thebenthic invertebrate community may increase the availability of food andpromote growth and even fisheries yield of target fish species. If and howthis occurs is the subject of ongoing debate, with evidence both in favourand against. We model the effects of trawling on a simple ecosystem ofbenthivorous fish and two food populations (benthos), susceptible andresistant to trawling. We show that the ecosystem response to trawlingdepends on whether the abundance of benthos is top-down or bottom-upcontrolled.


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