Evaluation of benthic assemblage structure in the NAFO regulatory area with regard to the protection of VME
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AuthorsBarrio Froján, Christopher; Downie, Anna-Leena; Sacau-Cuadrado, M.M. (María del Mar); Kenchington, Ellen; Kenny, Andrew
This article presents the results from the analysis of data acquired during the NEREIDA survey programme (2009-2010) around the Flemish Cap and the tail of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland (NAFO Regulatory Area). Biological samples were collected using a mega box-core, which were processed for the extraction and identification of benthic macrofauna. A suite of physical samples and environmental measurements was also collected for evaluation. Analyses revealed the presence of benthic assemblages that were indicative of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME). VME indicative assemblages were present mostly outside of the fishing footprint. A simple habitat suitability model identified areas that are likely to accommodate VME indicative assemblages. Areas with the greatest potential to accommodate VME assemblages closely correspond with areas already managed for the protection of VME, where bottom-contact fishing practices are presently excluded. Such results support the notion that existing ...
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