Bottom Trawling

By Kristin Spink, Angelina Weng, Michael Garfinkle

Bottom Trawl

The bottom trawl is used in the Oceanic Zone. In the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf Coasts.
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How It Works

Bottom trawling is a method in which a large, cone-shaped net with heavy weights is dragged along the seafloor. Usually there are one or two boats dragging a single net along the ocean floor. A tow cable is attached to a rail on the back of the boat so that it is easier to rail in the net.

Fish That Are Harvested

Bottom Trawling Harms the Ecosystem!

The bottom trawl has a negative impact on the ecosystem because it uses a small mesh that makes it almost impossible for sea creatures to escape the net. Also, these nets are weighted and drag on the seafloor. This destroys plant life, coral reefs, and rock formations.

Ways to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Bottom Trawling

In order to mitigate the negative effects of bottom trawling, one can use a larger mesh in the cod end of the net to reduce the capture of small and unwanted marine organisms. Another way to mitigate the negative effects is to strictly permit bottom trawling in ocean areas where there is clear evidence that it has minimal harm to other species. This area should also have a fast environmental recovery time.

Government Involvement And Banning

The government does regulate the use of bottom trawling for harvesting marine animals such as shrimp, cod, flounder, and Sole. In international waters the monitoring of bottom trawling is much less stringent than the regulations put on bottom trawling close to the US shores. In the last ten years the US government has closed several of New England and the Mid- Atlantic waters to all fishing except for lobster trapping. The government is attempting to help destroyed ocean habitats recover. If the government were to ban bottom trawling all together, we would see a drastic drop in fish stock for humans. Despite the environmental destruction that bottom trawling causes in deep waters, shallow seas and continental shelfs are only minimally effect by bottom trawling because they are constantly moving and shifting.


90% of the organisms caught by bottom trawling are not used and are terminated. This means that only 10% of the marine animals are used when captured. The bottom trawl does more damage than good. Bycatch includes corals and anything that inhabits the coral, such as starfish, crabs, mollusks and sponges.

Is Bottom Trawling Sustainable?

Bottom Trawling is extremely damaging to fragile marine habitats such as coral reefs. With such an indiscriminate way of fishing, animal and plant species are incidentally victim to the fishing that is not intended for them. With that said, it is important for the fish economy and for humans reliance on fish in diet, so carefully monitored trawling in fast recovering areas is sustainable, it just needs to be regulated heavier.


Cod: be aware of how your fish is caught, look for hook and line fish, where fishermen sell the fish they caught with their fishing poles as opposed to fish caught by this industrial fishing method, in which the bycatch rate is high. Atlantic cod in particularly is a good altnerative. As for shrimp, ask the provider if the shrimp is imported or locally caught or farmed. Avoid imported shrimp and lean towards locally caught; locally farmed is also better than imported shrimp. Find out more about alternatives on .

Works Cited

N/A. "Bycatch." Greenpeace International. Greenpeace, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.

N/A. "Bycatch Victims." WWF Global. WWF, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.

N/A. "Destructive Fishing." Marine Conservation Institute. Marine Conservation Institute, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.

N/A. "FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Fishing Gear Type." FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Fishing Gear Type. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.

N/A. "Protecting Ocean Habitat from Bottom Trawling." NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

Priede, Imants. "A Bottom-trawling Ban Could See Fish Stocks Fall." The Conversation. The Conversation, 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.