Marine Biology

, Volume 154, Issue 5, pp 765–773 | Cite as

Limited trophodynamics effects of trawling on three Mediterranean fishes

  • F. Badalamenti
  • C. J. SweetingEmail author
  • N. V. C. Polunin
  • J. Pinnegar
  • G. D’Anna
  • C. Pipitone
Original Paper


Trawling has a significant effect on the structure of marine communities, yet the ubiquity of trawling impacts makes testing such effects difficult. This study examines trawling impacts on trophodynamics of three fishes among the Gulfs of Castellammare and Termini Imerese (northern Sicily), the first of which has been subject to a trawling ban since 1990 that initially resulted in an eightfold increase in total fish biomass. The Gulf of Termini Imerese remains heavily fished and was treated as a control site. Nitrogen and carbon stable isotope data were used to assess fishing induced changes in trophic levels or source of production supporting three demersal fish species; Mullus barbatus,Merluccius merluccius and Lophius budegassa following a control-impact approach. The exclusion of trawling resulted in only small alteration of δ15N in two of the three-three species. There were no systematic changes in the δ13C of any species sampled. Thus, a large influence of trawling on the trophodynamics of the studied species at sampled size was discounted. Although stable isotopes do not have spatial or temporal resolution to identify detailed shifts in diet composition, their integrative nature highlights that the trophic role these species play is robust to fishing impacts at scales over which the fishery operates. This is despite a significant increase in the abundance of these species and of total fish biomass within the protected area.


Fishing Trophic Level Fish Biomass Western Sector Depth Stratum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank M. Coppola, A. Galioto and M. Gristina for assistance with fish collection, V. M. Giacalone for graphic assistance, the cooperative CREA of Palermo for logistic support and Simon Jennings for his comments on the manuscript. This study was performed in accordance with the current laws of Sicily.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Badalamenti
    • 1
  • C. J. Sweeting
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. V. C. Polunin
    • 2
  • J. Pinnegar
    • 3
  • G. D’Anna
    • 1
  • C. Pipitone
    • 1
  1. 1.CNR-IAMC, Laboratorio di Ecologia MarinaCastellammare del GolfoItaly
  2. 2.School of Marine Science and TechnologyUniversity of NewcastleNewcastle upon TyneUK
  3. 3.The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture ScienceLowestoft LaboratoryLowestoft, SuffolkUK

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