Effects of seismic shooting on local abundance and catch rates of cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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To determine whether seismic exploration affected abundance or catch rates of cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), acoustic mapping and fishing trials with trawls and longlines were conducted in the central Barents Sea 7 days before, 5 days during, and 5 days after seismic shooting with air guns. Seismic shooting severely affected fish distribution, local abundance, and catch rates in the entire investigation area of 40 ´ 40 nautical miles.Trawl catches of cod and haddock and longline catches of haddock declined on average by about 50% (by mass) after shooting started, which agreed with the acoustic abundance estimates; longline catches of cod were reduced by 21%. Reductions in catch rates were observed 18 nautical miles from the seismic shooting area (3 ´ 10 nautical miles), but the most pronounced reduction occurred within the shooting area, where trawl catches of both species and longline catches of haddock were reduced by about 70% and the longline catches of cod by 45%; a relatively greater reduction was found (in catches and acoustic estimates) for large (>60 cm) than for small fish. Abundance and catch rates did not return to preshooting levels during the 5-day period after seismic shooting ended.