Symposium Abstract: The Characteristics and Function of Commercial Fishing Gears: How These Relate to Their Effects on Seafloor Habitats and the Pursuit of Ways to Minimize Effects
C. S. Rose
Of the factors that influence the effects of fishing gear on benthic ecosystems, the characteristics of the fishing gear may be as significant as the characteristics of the physical habitat or the community of organisms affected. While the effects of different fishing gear components on benthic ecosystems may have general similarities, variations in particular gear characteristics, such as force of bottom contact, and component dimensions, could cause profound differences in the severity of such effects. Few studies have addressed such distinctions and much of the relevant information has been collected incidental to studies with other goals, such as during research of fishing gear selectivity and related fish behavior. This has limited the usefulness of gear selection and modification in reducing seafloor effects. This paper will categorize and describe the identified effects of fishing, noting which characteristics of fishing gear components affect the severity of each effect. We will also describe the main components of the major classes of fishing gears and relate them to these significant characteristics. This background will be used to motivate and describe several concepts of gear modifications to reduce seabed effects.