Activity: Other › Types of other (prices, external and other activities) - (Co)promotor masterthesis
In 2013, the European Commission established the landing obligation in the Common Fisheries Policy, which prohibits beam trawl fisheries to discard (throw overboard) quota-regulated fish species. A reduction of the availability of discards in the sea floor ecosystem can have an impact on benthic scavengers due to a reduction of their feeding opportunities. This study assessed the importance of discards for infaunal communities and key scavenger species of the North Sea considering competition, predation, feeding metabolism and presence of alternative food sources. Four key epibenthic scavengers (Diogenes pugilator, Liocarcinus holsatus, Pagurus bernhardus and Asterias rubens) and two common discarded flatfish (Pleuronectes platessa and Limanda limanda) were used in a series of laboratory experiments. The results highlighted a significant effect of discards and epibenthic scavengers on infaunal communities. In addition, differences on the feeding metabolism and on the importance of the discards as a food source of two benthic scavenger species were detected. Our findings identified certain scavenger species that are feeding more prominently on discards, and as such, these species could be stronger impacted by the discard ban.
co-promotors: Jan Vanaverbeke (RBINS); Ulrike Braeckman (UGent)