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Title: Shellfisheries, seabed habitats and interactions in Northumberland
Author: Stephenson, Fabrice
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2016
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A push for a more evidence based approach to management has resulted in the need for robust evidence of fisheries impacts (or lack thereof), including further research into fine-scale impacts of potting for which little evidence is available. The present work focusses on the inshore pot fishery in Northumberland, UK. Potting effort distribution maps - a combination of fishing vessel sightings recorded during routine patrols and fishing effort by the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) – showed changes in potting effort across large sections of the study area between years (2004 – 2014). Temporal changes in fishers’ habitat selection were investigated using recently collected habitat data. Space-time clustering suggested fishers were actively targeting habitats of interest. Compositional analysis of habitat, showed that fishers preferred rocky habitats over sediment habitats when using both EUNIS level 3 and 6 habitat maps. Information on habitat use and fishing pressure provided the basis for investigation of long-term impacts of parlour potting on epibenthos and habitat within the Berwickshire & North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (BNNC EMS) through analysis of historical videographic monitoring data between 2002 – 2011. Analysis of biotope change between years (a method recommended for monitoring purposes) showed that at the scales investigated here, change had not occurred. Weaknesses of this analysis for the use in robust ecological research are discussed. A more detailed analysis of community composition and diversity change between years showed that there was little evidence of change. However, changes in species composition and richness of ‘Faunal and algal crusts on exposed to moderately wave-exposed circalittoral rock’ were observed between years, in most models and between fishing pressures. Finally, quantification of direct impacts through in-situ experimental fishing was investigated using a BACI design. The high experimental fishing intensity, in small experimental areas, coupled with high levels of sampling and replication, provided iii robust evidence that current levels of potting are unlikely to have a direct physical impact on epibenthos in Faunal and algal crust, and Laminaria spp dominated habitats in Northumberland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural England
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available