Cease or prohibit shellfish dredging

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study examined the effects of ceasing or prohibiting shellfish dredging on marine fish populations. The study was in the North Sea (Denmark).


  • Richness/diversity (1 study): One before-and-after, site comparison study in the North Sea reported that 10 years after mussel dredging ceased in an area closed to all towed fishing gears there was no change in species richness of bottom-dwelling fish compared to before and to open areas.


  • Abundance (1 study): One before-and-after, site comparison study in the North Sea, reported that ceasing mussel dredging in an area closed to all towed gears had no effect on the abundance of bottom-dwelling fish after 10 years, and compared to open areas.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after, site comparison study in 1981–1998 of a fjord in the North Sea, Denmark (Hoffmann & Dolmer 2000) reported that prohibiting all towed fishing gears (mainly mussel dredges) in an area had no effect on the abundance and species richness of bottom-dwelling fish in the following 10 years, and compared to open areas. Data were not statistically tested. In trawl surveys, fish abundance (closed: 0–13 kg/30 min, open: 0–31 kg/30 min) and number of species (closed: 4–11, open: 1–9) varied between years but no effect of the closure was detected in either area. In set net and trap samples, catch rates were higher in the fished area (closed: 37–486 g/fishing unit, fished: 132–915 g/fishing unit) but there was no difference in the number of species (closed: 3–8, fished: 4–8). In 1988, a 40 km2 mussel Mytilus edulis fishing ground in the Limfjord was closed to all towed fishing gears (to prohibit mussel dredging as the only towed gears in use) and only static fishing gears allowed. Fish data was collected by two methods: annual trawl surveys from 1981–1998 in August/September at two stations inside and two just outside the closed area; and in 1995, 1996 and 1997, experimental fishing with fixed set nets (48 deployments) and eel traps (38 deployments) at three locations inside and three outside the closed area. Catch rates and number of species were recorded. No fish species groups (other than demersal) or individual species were specified.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Taylor, N., Clarke, L.J., Alliji, K., Barrett, C., McIntyre, R., Smith, R.K., and Sutherland, W.J. (2021) Marine Fish Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Selected Interventions. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Marine Fish Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Marine Fish Conservation
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