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COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown: An Excellent Opportunity to Study the Effects of Trawling Disturbance on Macrobenthic Fauna in the Shallow Waters of the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia, Central Mediterranean Sea)

Abstract : This study describes for the first time in the central Mediterranean Sea the effects of bottom trawling on macrobenthic fauna in tidal channels of the Kneiss Islands in the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia. Following a BACI protocol, two control stations (protected by artificial reefs) and two trawled stations (impacted stations) were sampled during a period with the absence of bottom trawling activity (the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period from March to May 2020) and during a trawled period. Although bottom trawling had no impact on sediment composition, this anthropogenic activity reduced the concentration of dissolved oxygen and had a noticeable effect on water column turbidity. The absence of trawling led to a significant increase in biomass, number of species, and abundance of total macrofauna. This illustrated the negative effect of trawling activity in shallow waters and the high resilience of macrobenthic communities of the tidal ecosystem of the Kneiss Islands. In the future, it would be very important to control the use of this destructive fishing gear due to its negative impact on the marine habitat and macrofauna, which represents essential prey for fishes and birds living in this protected area.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 9:18:46 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, April 2, 2022 - 4:02:10 PM

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Nawfel Mosbahi, Jean-Philippe Pezy, Jean-Claude Dauvin, Lassad Neifar. COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown: An Excellent Opportunity to Study the Effects of Trawling Disturbance on Macrobenthic Fauna in the Shallow Waters of the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia, Central Mediterranean Sea). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI, 2022, 19 (3), pp.1282. ⟨10.3390/ijerph19031282⟩. ⟨hal-03594943⟩

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