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7 Findings and Recommendations
Pages 65-68

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From page 65...
... Studies that examine changes in seafloor structure and biological communities after disturbance by various types of mobile fishing gear have yielded consistent patterns of acute effects that can be categorized by gear type, habitat characteristics, composition of the benthic community, and frequency of disturbance. To convert those results into an assessment of ecosystem-level effects on seafloor habitats requires analysis of the frequency of bottom trawling and dredging and fine-scale mapping of this effort relative to the geography of seafloor habitats in the fishing grounds.
From page 66...
... Recommendation The National Marine Fisheries Service and its partner agencies should integrate existing data on seabed characteristics, fishing effort, and catch statistics to provide geographic databases for major fishing grounds. The potential consequences of fishing can be most efficiently assessed by the simultaneous and consistent presentation of all available data on the characteristics of the seabed and fishing effort.
From page 67...
... Comparative risk assessment can be used when there is incomplete scientific information because it relies on a combination of available data, scientific inference, and public values. Mobile bottom gear is only one of many factors contributing to the degradation of benthic habitats; the comparative approach provides a method for simultaneous consideration of a wide range of risks, including pollution, drilling, and natural disturbance.
From page 68...
... Aggregation and analysis of existing information on habitats, fishing effort, and efficacy of various management measures will help the regional fishery management councils meet their mandate to protect EFH. Topics for future research include the following: · develop testable hypotheses of how biological communities in different habitat types respond to fishing; · establish baselines for characteristic habitats and regions to document the effects of various fishery practices; · design quantitative models to predict fishing effects in areas that have not been studied; validate the use of frequency-dependent distribution approaches for designating EFH and HAPC through analysis of community structure and life history parameters; and collect and analyze data on the social and economic characteristics of trawl, dredge, and nonmobile gear fisheries to assess the tradeoffs among various management alternatives.

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