• Effects of areas closed to bottom trawling on fish and invertebrate species in the eastern Bering Sea

      Frazier, Christine Ann; Norcross, Brenda; Hills, Sue; Norcorss, Brenda; Witherell, David (2003-12)
      The Bering Sea is a productive ecosystem with some of the most important fisheries in the United States. Constant commercial fishing for groundfish has occurred since the 1960s. The implementation of areas closed to bottom trawling to protect critical habitat for fish or crabs resulted in successful management of these fisheries. The efficacy of these closures on non-target species is unknown. This study determined if differences in abundance, biomass, diversity and evenness of dominant fish and invertebrate species occur among areas open and closed to bottom trawling in the eastern Bering Sea between 1996 and 2000. This study represented four areas: two within Bristol Bay closed areas and two within comparable fished areas. Total abundance and biomass were not significantly different among fished and closed areas or between pre-closure (1990-1994) and post-closure (1996-2000) years. Diversity and evenness were greater in fished areas than closed areas. The biomass of some functional feeding groups (i.e. piscivores, detritivores) of species decreased when compared among areas and in pre-closure versus post-closure years while others increased. These results support the need for continued research and monitoring of eastern Bering Sea closed areas to determine recovery time and the efficacy of closures as a management tool.