Benthic Habitats and the Effects of Fishing

Extrapolating Extinctions and Extirpations: Searching for a Pre-Fishing State of the Benthos

Leonie A. Robinson and Chris L. J. Frid

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569605.ch106

Abstract. The long history of mechanized fishing and exploitation of marine ecosystems began before ecological studies were undertaken. Scientists are constrained when trying to establish baseline or “pre-fishing” levels of ecological condition and quality. In this study, the potential for using paleoecological records to reconstruct a pre-fishing benthic assemblage of the entire North Sea is examined. Comparison of the historic record with contemporary records reveals that seven species from three phyla are absent in modern North Sea communities. The ability to establish whether these disappearances are a result of fisheries disturbance based on the relative vulnerability of the extirpated species is also explored.