Potential impacts of bottom trawling on benthic communities in Prydz Bay, Antarctica
This paper presents data on benthos retrieved in bottom trawls during a survey of demersal finfish species in Prydz Bay by Australia in the 1990/91 season. The data collected are used to examine a potential impact of bottom trawling on benthic communities in this region. The benthos was examined in trawls at 14 of the 22 random stations providing representative samples from different areas in the Prydz Bay. All benthos in the codend was sorted into major taxa and wet-weighed. The composition of the benthos retained was primarily sponges and ascidians. Holothurians and crinoids were the next most abundant taxa in terms of biomass. The wet-weighed ratio of benthos to finfish in the codend was greater than 1 at 12 out of the 14 stations and was mostly greater than 10. The results of this study demonstrate that the biomass of benthos that could be disturbed by commercial bottom trawling could be high in Prydz Bay. Also, the results indicate that there is a need to examine the nature of benthic communities in areas in which commercial bottom trawling may occur so that measures can be taken to ensure the integrity of these communities are maintained.