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JNAFS

01

J. D. M. Gordon

Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory
Oban, PA37 1QA, United Kingdom

Source - Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science, Volume 31: 57-83
ISSN-0250-6408

Abstract

The Rockall Trough or Channel is a clearly delimited deep-water area lying to the west of the British Isles. The eastern and western boundaries are formed by the continental margin and the Rockall Plateau, respectively. To the north it is separated from the colder Norwegian Sea by a ridge at about 500 m depth. To the south the depth steadily increases to abyssal depths. In the 1860s and 1870s some of the earliest descriptions of deep-water fishes were from this area. This review documents the late 19th and early 20th century investigations of the fish populations. The U.K. and Germany carried out deep-water exploratory fishing surveys in the 1970s and 1980s and detailed biological studies by the Scottish Association for Marine Science began in 1975. These, and other more recent studies, have added considerably to our knowledge of biology and ecology of the deep-water fishes. General accounts are given of the key features of the target and non-target species and families. Although some deep-water fishing began in the 1970s the rapid increase in commercial exploitation did not begin until 1989. As a result, there is information on the fish populations and their biology that pre-date the fishery. Since then, several countries have carried out research surveys in the area and there has been some monitoring of landings and discards. Concerns about the vulnerability of the fish stocks have been documented since 1993 and International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has assessed the status of the stocks since 1998. They are currently considered to be outside safe biological limits. The most recent ICES advice is for a 50% reduction in fishing effort for the main target species. Despite ICES advice, the fishery remains unregulated. There are also concerns about the impact of the fishery, especially bottom trawling, on what is generally considered to be a fragile ecosystem. This paper revisits the documented concerns about the vulnerability of the fish stocks and their habitat and describes the transition from what is probably one of the best-studied deep-water ecosystems to an area that is being subjected to unsustainable exploitation of its fish populations.

Language - English
Publisher - Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), Dartmouth, N.S., Canada
Publication Date - 2003
Publication Type - Journal Article
Descriptors -  deep-water fishery, ecosystem, fishing impacts, Rockall Trough, sustainability

Citation

Gordon, J. D. M. 2003. The Rockall Trough, Northeast Atlantic: the Cradle of Deep-sea Biological Oceanography that is Now Being Subjected to Unsustainable Fishing Activity. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci., 31:
57-83. https://doi.org/10.2960/J.v31.a5


Posted in: Volume 31 - 2003
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