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Cold-water corals landed by bottom longline fisheries in the Azores (north-eastern Atlantic)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2012

Í. Sampaio*
Affiliation:
Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, 9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
A. Braga-Henriques
Affiliation:
Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, 9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
C. Pham
Affiliation:
Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, 9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
O. Ocaña
Affiliation:
Fundación Museo del Mar, Autoridad Portuaria de Ceuta, Muelle Cañonero, 51001, North Africa, Ceuta, Spain
V. de Matos
Affiliation:
Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, 9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
T. Morato
Affiliation:
Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, 9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
F.M. Porteiro
Affiliation:
Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, 9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: Í. Sampaio Centre of IMAR of the University of Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal email: irisfs@gmail.com

Abstract

The impact of bottom trawling on cold-water corals (CWC) has been thoroughly studied and shown to be long-lasting; however the effects of bottom longlining on CWC ecosystems have received little attention. The present paper identifies the principal CWC species landed by bottom longlining in Faial (Azores) from 150 to 600 m depth. Data were obtained from a survey of 297 landings during four months coupled with 16 interviews with fishermen. A distinction was made among corals brought on deck directly entangled in the fishing gear (primary by-catch) from corals brought up associated with other larger CWC species or rocks (secondary by-catch). Forty-five (15.2%) of 297 fishing trips surveyed landed coral specimens. The survey recorded 39 different CWC taxa in the by-catch, belonging to five different orders (Scleractinia, Alcyonacea, Antipatharia, Zoanthidea and Anthoathecata). Secondary by-catch included a larger number of species but the total number of corals was in the same order of magnitude for both groups. The taxa most frequently encountered were Leiopathes spp., Errina dabneyiand Dendrophyllia sp. CWC taxa in the by-catch were mostly medium size (10–60 cm), 3-dimensional and branched colonies. Local ecological knowledge of fishermen confirmed that the corals recorded were representative of their past experience and also revealed a general agreement that there has been a decrease of CWC by-catch on traditional fishing grounds. Corals are common by-catch in bottom longline fisheries around the Azores and so conservation measures may be required.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2012

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