Journal Article

Influence of seismic shooting on the lesser sandeel (<i>Ammodytes marinus</i>)

Arne Hassel, Tor Knutsen, John Dalen, Kristian Skaar, Svein Løkkeborg, Ole Arve Misund, Øivind Østensen, Merete Fonn and Eli Kyrkjebø Haugland

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 61, issue 7, pages 1165-1173
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2004.07.008
Influence of seismic shooting on the lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus)

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A field experiment on the effect of seismic shooting on the lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus) was conducted on the fishing grounds in the southeastern part of the North Sea in May 2002. Sandeel buried in the sand at night were trapped in steel frame cages (2.0 × 1.8 × 2.0 m) deployed in positions with high abundance of fish located by a van Veen grab. In an experimental area, three sandeel cages were exposed to full-scale seismic shooting for about 2.5 d. Cameras in the cage and on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) were used to monitor the activity of the enclosed fish. A control area about 35 km southeast of the seismic shooting area was established with two sandeel cages. The distribution and abundance of the lesser sandeel during daytime in the experimental region were regularly monitored by acoustic surveying, but the present methodology could not demonstrate that seismic shooting caused any change in sandeel abundance. Repeated grab surveys were conducted using a van Veen grab for a predetermined set of localities almost every night during the experimental period, both prior to and after seismic shooting. The results indicate that the seismic shooting had a moderate effect on the behaviour of the lesser sandeel. We did not observe any immediate lethal effect, neither from the cage experiments nor from the grab samples. The total mortality in the cages of about 35% on average, both in the experimental group and the control group, was probably a result of injuries during deployment, due to handling and confinement. Analyses of landing data from the Norwegian sandeel trawlers show a temporary drop in the sandeel landings for a short period after the seismic experiment.

Keywords: behaviour; grab sampling; sandeel; seismic shooting

Journal Article.  4610 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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