Bottom trawling noise: Are fishing vessels polluting to deeper acoustic habitats?
The impact of bottom trawling noise was quantified on two surrounding marine acoustic habitats using fixed mooring acoustic recorders. Noise during trawling activity is shown to be considerably louder than ambient noise and a nearby underway research vessel. Estimated source levels were above cetacean damage thresholds. Measurements at a submarine canyon indicated potential noise focussing, inferring a role for such features to enhance down slope noise propagation at continental margin sites. Modelled sound propagates more efficiently when sourced from trawling gear dragging along the seabed relative to the vessel as a surface source. Results are contextualised with respect to marine mammal harm, to other anthropogenic ocean noise sources, topography and seasons. Noise energy emitted by bottom trawling activity is a source of pollution that requires further consideration, in line with other pervasive trawling pressures on marine species and seabed habitats, especially in areas of heightened ecological susceptibility.