Evidence of large increases in sedimentation rates due to fish trawling in submarine canyons of the Gulf of Palermo (SW Mediterranean)

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Abstract

Bottom trawling in submarine canyons can affect their natural sedimentation rates, but studies addressing this issue are still scarce. In the Gulf of Palermo (SW Mediterranean), bottom trawling occurs on the slope around Oreto, Arenella and Eleuterio canyons. Analyses of excess 210Pb concentrations and grain size fractions in sediment cores from their canyon axes revealed that sedimentation rates and silt contents increased in all canyons in the 1980s, due to the expansion of more powerful trawlers (>500 HP) to deeper fishing grounds. In Eleuterio and Arenella canyons, sedimentation rates increased by an order of magnitude (0.1-1.4 cm·yr-1), whereas they increased less (0.1-0.7 cm·yr-1) in Oreto Canyon, since the enhanced trawling-derived sediment fluxes into this canyon are affected by sediment resuspension from trawling along its axis. Considering the global expansion of bottom trawling, we anticipate similar alterations in other trawled canyons, with ecological consequences that should be addressed by management strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112861
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume172
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Bottom trawling
  • Mediterranean
  • NW Sicily
  • Pb-210
  • Sedimentation rates
  • Submarine canyons

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