First attempts towards the restoration of gorgonian populations on the Mediterranean continental shelf

Last modified: 
August 12, 2019 - 3:19pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 08/2019
Authors: Maria Montseny, Cristina Linares, Núria Viladrich, Alejandro Olariaga, Marc Carreras, Narcís Palomeras, Nuno Gracias, Klemen Istenič, Rafael Garcia, Stefano Ambroso, Andreu Santín, Jordi Grinyó, Josep‐Maria Gili, Andrea Gori
Journal title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Volume: 29
Issue: 8
Pages: 1278 - 1284
ISSN: 1052-7613
  1. In the Mediterranean Sea, gorgonians are among the main habitat‐forming species of benthic communities on the continental shelf and slope, playing an important ecological role in coral gardens.
  2. In areas where bottom trawling is restricted, gorgonians represent one of the main components of trammel net bycatch. Since gorgonians are long‐lived and slow‐growing species, impacts derived from fishing activities can have far‐reaching and long‐lasting effects, jeopardizing their long‐term viability. Thus, mitigation and ecological restoration initiatives focusing on gorgonian populations on the continental shelf are necessary to enhance and speed up their natural recovery.
  3. Bycatch gorgonians from artisanal fishermen were transplanted into artificial structures, which were then deployed at 85 m depth on the outer continental shelf of the marine protected area of Cap de Creus (north‐west Mediterranean Sea, Spain). After 1 year, high survival rates of transplanted colonies (87.5%) were recorded with a hybrid remotely operated vehicle.
  4. This pilot study shows, for the first time, the survival potential of bycatch gorgonians once returned to their habitat on the continental shelf, and suggests the potential success of future scaled‐up restoration activities.
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