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The impact of mobile demersal fishing on carbon storage in seabed sediments
Epstein, G.; Middelburg, J.J.; Hawkins, J.P.; Norris, C.R.; Roberts, C. M. (2022). The impact of mobile demersal fishing on carbon storage in seabed sediments. Glob. Chang. Biol. 28(9): 2875-2894.
In: Global Change Biology. Blackwell Publishers: Oxford. ISSN 1354-1013; e-ISSN 1365-2486, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

    Catching methods > Net fishing > Trawling
Author keywords
    blue carbon, carbon, carbon storage, marine

Auteurs  Top 
  • Epstein, G.
  • Middelburg, J.J., meer
  • Hawkins, J.P.
  • Norris, C.R.
  • Roberts, C. M.

    Subtidal marine sediments are one of the planet's primary carbon stores and strongly influence the oceanic sink for atmospheric CO2. By far the most widespread human activity occurring on the seabed is bottom trawling/dredging for fish and shellfish. A global first-order estimate suggested mobile demersal fishing activities may cause 0.16–0.4 Gt of organic carbon (OC) to be remineralized annually from seabed sediment carbon stores (Sala et al., 2021). There are, however, many uncertainties in this calculation. Here, we discuss the potential drivers of change in seabed sediment OC stores due to mobile demersal fishing activities and conduct a literature review, synthesizing studies where this interaction has been directly investigated. Under certain environmental settings, we hypothesize that mobile demersal fishing would reduce OC in seabed stores due to lower production of flora and fauna, the loss of fine flocculent material, increased sediment resuspension, mixing and transport and increased oxygen exposure. Reductions would be offset to varying extents by reduced faunal bioturbation and community respiration, increased off-shelf transport and increases in primary production from the resuspension of nutrients. Studies which directly investigated the impact of demersal fishing on OC stocks had mixed results. A finding of no significant effect was reported in 61% of 49 investigations; 29% reported lower OC due to fishing activities, with 10% reporting higher OC. In relation to remineralization rates within the seabed, four investigations reported that demersal fishing activities decreased remineralization, with three reporting higher remineralization rates. Patterns in the environmental and experimental characteristics between different outcomes were largely indistinct. More evidence is urgently needed to accurately quantify the impact of anthropogenic physical disturbance on seabed carbon in different environmental settings and to incorporate full evidence-based carbon considerations into global seabed management.

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