Benthic Habitats and the Effects of Fishing
Symposium Abstract: Changes in the Epibenthos Assemblages of the North Sea following the Establishment of a Protected Area, the “Plaice Box”
J. A. Craeymeersch and G. J. Piet
In 1989 a protected area in the south-eastern North Sea was established: the ‘plaice box’. Data of the by-catch of annual beam trawl surveys carried out since 1985 will be used to determine the effect of the changes in fishing effort. A first analysis showed significant changes in the species composition after the ‘closure’ of the box. Changes, however, also occurred in the reference area (although in other species), suggesting that in addition to changes in impact by bottom fishing gear, other (climatic?) variables may have been involved. We will present the results of further analysis using multivariate techniques. Changes in species composition in the box area and in a reference area will be related to changes in fishing effort, environmental variables and climate.