The impact of potting for crustaceans on temperate rocky reef habitats: Implications for management

Multi-use marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly designated towards achieving global conservation targets. To develop effective management, the impact of permitted activities must be understood. Potting for shellfish occurs on temperate rocky reefs globally with impact not fully quantified.

This UK-based study used underwater video to quantify (a) benthic condition of rocky reefs, (b) mechanisms of potting interaction and (c) true footprint of potting. Assemblages in static gear areas were more indicative of a healthy reef than those in mixed gear areas. Damage was recorded during pot hauling, but the area of damage was not the entire pot haul path. 25–30% of individuals were damaged (commonly through tissue abrasion) or removed. Notably, damage occurred to some long-lived, slow growing taxa raising concerns over impacts. Potting is more destructive than previously thought and managers must balance ecology with social and economic considerations to determine what level of impact is acceptable.’

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