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Changes in species composition of demersal fish fauna of southeast Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, after 20 years of fishing
Harris, A.N.; Poiner, I.R. (1991). Changes in species composition of demersal fish fauna of southeast Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, after 20 years of fishing. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 111: 503-519
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Harris, A.N.
  • Poiner, I.R.

    The changes in a tropical demersal fish community in the southeast Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, were examined by comparing the results of a survey undertaken in 1964 before the area was fished, with two surveys in 1985 and 1986 after 20 yr of commercial trawl fishing. The numerical abundance of 52 of the 82 fish taxa had not changed significantly, but that of 18 had decreased while 12 had increased. One taxon (Paramonacanthus spp.) had decreased by more than 500 times and another (Saurida micropectoralis) had increased substantially in abundance. The changes occurred throughout the area surveyed, but the largest changes were offshore. In the pre-trawling community most taxa were caught mainly during the night, while in the post-trawling community most were caught in the same numbers during day and night. In 10 of the 30 taxa that changed in abundance, changes were within a family and could not be explained.For the remaining 20, the changes could be related to their position in the water column: benthic taxa decreased and bentho-pelagic taxa increased. The changes were assessed in relation to fishing effort, and changes in the mud content of the substrate in the study area. Although the changes did not correlate with the fishing effort among three zones in the study area, it is suggested that fishing effort and discarding of the by-catch caused the change in 18 taxa. The magnitude of the decreases of some species might be related to changes in the sediment or possibly other long-term environmental change. There was also a change in the diel behaviour in the fish community that perhaps may be related to the effects of fishing on a tropical multi species fish community.

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