Indirect effects of otter trawling on the condition and trophic level of Nephrops and flatfish in the Kattegat

Jan Geert Hiddink, Stephen Balestrin, Joan Moranta, Matthew Coleman, Francois Bastardie, Mattias Sköld, Marija Sciberras, Hilmar Hinz

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


The fishing gear used in bottom trawl fisheries cause mortality of benthic invertebrates and this can decrease the long-term availability of prey to exploited fish species by reducing the abundance of benthic invertebrates. Alternatively, low trawling levels could increase food production for species that feed on small invertebrates that are released from competition with large invertebrates by trawling. Both outcomes may have consequences for
biodiversity, the food-web and the sustainability of fisheries. We assessed the impact of bottom trawling on the food availability of fish by comparing the condition (as weight-atlength) and trophic level of the fish Pleuronectes platessa, Limanda limanda, Hippoglossoides platessoides and the crustacean Nephrops norvegicus in an area with strong variation in commercial otter-trawling effort owing to the presence of MPAs with different levels of protection in the Kattegat (Sweden and Denmark). The results show that the abundance and body size of Nephrops was much higher in the fully closed areas, whereas that of the flatfish was less affected. The condition and trophic level for Nephrops were highest on intensively trawled areas suggesting that trawling reduces competition and
increases food availability for Nephrops. In contrast, the condition of the flatfish species was the highest at low levels of trawling. This study therefore suggests that high effort levels of bottom trawling have a negative effect on the prey availability and thus on the condition of some of the target species, but not others, and that low levels of trawling might positively affect food availability for some flatfish species. Alternatively, flatfishes might avoid areas with high densities of large Nephrops
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventICES Symposium 2014: Effects of fishing on benthic fauna, habitat and ecosystem function - Tromsø, Norway
Duration: 16 Jun 201419 Jun 2014


ConferenceICES Symposium 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Indirect effects of otter trawling on the condition and trophic level of Nephrops and flatfish in the Kattegat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this