An evaluation of the bottom trawl surveys in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAxelsen, B. E. and Johnsen, E. (2014), An evaluation of the bottom trawl surveys in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Fisheries Oceanography. doi: 10.1111/fog.12079 10.1111/fog.12079
Demersal fish, shrimp and cephalopod assemblages on the continental shelves and slopes off Angola, Namibia and the southern and western coasts of South Africa have been monitored in terms of fisheries-independent trawl surveys since the 1980s. The time series have provided vital input to stock assessments and are widely used in studies of ecology and biodiversity. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the technical specifications of the vessels and trawls used, to examine effects of modifications on catching efficiency, and to assess implications of these modifications over time. We find that the demersal trawl data collected in South Africa are not comparable with those of Namibia and Angola, and that the time series of Angola and Namibia contain inherent differences in terms of catchability of bottom dwellers. The introduction of smaller bobbins gear on the RV Dr. Fridtjof Nansen in 1994 increased the catchability of bottom-dwelling species, and catch rates of monkfish and sole were higher in surveys with commercial vessels than the RV Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. We recommend that temporal trends are interpreted with caution and that time series for the three countries are viewed in isolation.