Dredging for wild mussels Mytilus edulis Linnaeus, 1758 takes place in the marine protected areas (Natura 2000 sites) in Denmark. The fishery is strictly regulated to limit the impact of dredging to the benthic environment, and requires the use of modified lightweight mussel dredges. Nevertheless, the depletion of the benthic macrofauna associated with M. edulis beds after impact from such dredges is yet to be quantified. Here, dredging is shown to result in a significant decline in the density, species richness, and biological traits directly in the dredge track but no significant impact on the community composition. Species richness remained significantly affected 4 mo post dredging, although the positive trend after 4 mo may signal recovery. An effect of dredging was also detected in areas adjacent (approximately 5 m) to the dredge tracks, but needs further investigation to understand this impact. The results provide an estimate of benthic macrofaunal depletion in the dredge track as well as of the short-term recovery, which may be of use in the management of the fishery. Finally, it is suggested that species richness may be a more sensitive indicator than density in a eutrophic and species-poor system.
- Before-after-control-impact (BACI)
- Biological traits
- Bivalve fishery
- Ecosystem based fisheries management
- Fisheries effects
- Mytilus edulis