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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Australian scientists claim 100 years of trawling had minimal effects on sea floor

Hard evidence from down under surfaces!

"A new report by Australia's national science agency (CSIRO) has reportedly found that 100 years of trawling in the south-east has had only minimal effects on the sea bottom.

Existing research about the impact that trawl fishing gear has on seafloor invertebrates, and their recovery afterwards, was considered, along with maps of where fishing has occurred.

The results of the study were surprisingly positive, and showed that trawling does not have the affects that many would think, said a statement from Setfia, Australia's south-east trawl fishing industry association.

CSIRO said only 6% of the seafloor is currently trawled annually, and some areas where invertebrates live are not ever trawled, because they are closed by fishery closures and marine parks.

44% of the fishery is closed to trawling, while other areas are not fished because they are unproductive or too rough to trawl.

When trawling was at its most intensive, invertebrate abundance was still high (80- 93%). Closures, marine parks and license buy-backs contributed to the recovery of invertebrates by very little (1-3%), it said.

Invertebrate abundance is currently very high (82- 94% of their original abundance). Most fishery closures and marine parks had little detectable influence on the abundance of invertebrates.

"100 years of the south-east providing healthy seafood in relation to the loss of 6-18% of the region’s invertebrate abundance contrasts favorably to the loss of 40% of Australia’s forests and 50% of its wetlands," Setfia proposed. "The trawl fishing of 6% annually of the south-east seafloor compares very favorably with the farming of 26% of the Australian landmass."

“The fishing industry has always known that there are very few trawl vessels operating in a very limited area and that our footprint would be minimal. This research proves that," said Setfia chairman, Tom Bibby.

"Green groups must try to convince the Australian community that trawl fishing is harmful in order to drive continued donations."

"Industry is not lobbying for the removal of marine parks but the industry operates under the constant threat of more closures; this work shows that they are not needed. Invertebrate communities never reached low levels and are rebuilding strongly," he said.

The southeast trawl fishery is the main supplier of the Melbourne and Sydney fish markets, landing 12,000 metric tons of fish worth AUD 50 million as it leaves the port. Species include flathead, pink ling and blue grenadier."

Original report here: