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Research at the Auke Bay Laboratory on Benthic Habitat


Undersea gardens of coral and sponges provide cover and food for sea life in the Aleutain Islands. Photo by Bob Stone.

Since 1996, scientists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Centerís  Auke Bay Laboratory (ABL) have been conducting research on the effects of fishing gear on benthic habitat. Most of the research has focused on the effects of bottom trawls.  The use of bottom trawls is one of  the more controversial fishing methods due to documented changes in species composition and diversity and a reduction in habitat complexity associated with this gear type.

The ABL studies provide information for developing appropriate measures for minimizing adverse impacts of fishing on habitat, as required in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Research has focused on

  1. Understanding the direct effects of bottom trawling on seafloor habitat;
  2. Understanding the associations of fish and invertebrate species with habitat features that may be affected by fishing gear; and
  3. Developing analytical tools to assess habitat impacts and evaluate proposed mitigation measures.

This article provides an overview of research on benthic habitat conducted by the ABL’s Groundfish Assessment Program in collaboration with scientists from several universities and other government agencies.

Read the complete article
(pdf; 1.9 MB)>>>

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