Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No 4 (2012)

Assessing the effects of a trawling ban on diet and trophic level of hake, Merluccius merluccius, in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea

Mauro Sinopoli
ISPRA sts Palermo , Italy

Emanuela Fanelli
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Giovanni D’Anna
CNR - IAMC , Italy

Fabio Badalamenti
CNR - IAMC , Italy

Carlo Pipitone
CNR - IAMC , Italy


This study assesses the effects of a trawling ban on the diet and trophodynamics of the hake Merluccius merluccius by comparing stomach contents and stable isotopes (δ15N and δ13C) in two trawled gulfs and one untrawled gulf in northern Sicily (western Mediterranean). Comparisons were made for three size classes of hake encompassing 60 to 410 mm total length. Fish were collected from 50 to 200 m depth on muddy bottoms. The diets of hake of small and medium size were similar overall but more selective in the untrawled gulf. Greater differences were detected between the diets of larger specimens from trawled and untrawled areas. In the untrawled gulf large hake mainly preyed on clupeoid fish, while in the trawled gulfs other fish prey were found in the stomach contents. δ15N values of hake did not vary significantly between trawled and untrawled areas, while there was a clear effect of size, with larger individuals being significantly more enriched than juveniles. Conversely, δ13C values were generally more depleted for individuals collected in the untrawled area, suggesting a more pelagic source of carbon. The results from the mixing model agree fairly well with the known feeding habits found for each size class in each area.


diet; fishing impact; Merluccius merluccius; stable isotopes; trophodynamics; Mediterranean

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