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A quantitative evaluation of the effects of Ascophyllum harvesting on the littoral ecosystem
Boaden, P.J.S.; Dring, M.T. (1980). A quantitative evaluation of the effects of Ascophyllum harvesting on the littoral ecosystem. Helgol. Meeresunters. 33(1-4): 700-710.
In: Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen. Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. ISSN 0174-3597, more
Also appears in:
Kinne, O.; Bulnheim, H.-P. (Ed.) (1980). Protection of life in the sea: 14th European Marine Biology Symposium, 23-29 September 1979, Helgoland. Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen, 33(1-4). Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. 772 pp., more
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  • Boaden, P.J.S., more
  • Dring, M.T.

    Little is known of the ecological effects of harvesting littoral algae although this is a worldwide commercial activity. In 1976 an attempt to establish harvesting in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, was opposed on mainly theoretical conservation grounds. The attempt began and stopped within a single small bay leaving a sharp boundary between cut and uncut areas. A subjective survey apparently confirmed the predicted loss of cryptic fauna, decline through predation and the resorting of interboulder sediment. In April 1979 the cut and uncut areas were examined in detail to determine whether any of these effects had persisted and were demonstrable scientifically. Beach and boulder transects and various other studies showed some increases in the cut area. There was significantly more Fucus, Enteromorpha and Ulva; Cirratulus (inhabiting Rhodochorton-bound sediment on boulder surfaces) had a greater biomass. Some changes in Littorina colour morphs were apparent. Sediment in the cut area was coarser and had significantly more crustacean meiofauna. Ascophyllum internodal length and lateral branching were increased but it still provided 20% less shore cover than in the uncut area. There were significant decreases in the cover of Cladophora on the sides of boulders and of Halichondria, Hymeniacodon and Balanus on undersurfaces. Indeed on the habitable underside of boulders total animal cover had been reduced by nearly two-thirds and the average number of species per boulder by one-third. It is concluded that Ascophyllum harvesting has a significant and persistent effect on shore ecology. Littoral algae are a valuable commercial asset but it is important that some fairly large intertidal areas should be left unharvested for general conservation purposes.

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