Impacts of Bottom Trawling on Underwater Cultural Heritage
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The fishing method of trawling, or dragging, has long been shown to be harmful to a plethora of sea life inhabiting the world?s oceans and inland waterways. Fishing nets scour the seabed, disturbing everything in their path, while usually in search of only one type of bottom-dwelling species. Impacts to the seafloor include a removal of topographic features, disturbance of the upper sediment layers, including deep furrows, as well as physical and chemical changes to sediment morphology. While biological organisms and communities can potentially recover from this destruction, archaeological data cannot. Fishermen have been raising important artifacts in their nets for over a century. These finds have helped archaeologists locate significant sites, but they also have the adverse effect of irreparably damaging these sites. This thesis explores the impacts of bottom trawling on underwater cultural heritage. The methods and gear used by trawlers and their documented effects upon the sea floor are identified. Examples of the types of damage shipwreck sites receive after being impacted by trawling are presented. Instances where fishermen have raised prehistoric artifacts from inundated land sites are also introduced. The fishing and archaeological communities must cooperate to limit further damage to underwater cultural heritage around the globe.
Atkinson, Christopher (2012). Impacts of Bottom Trawling on Underwater Cultural Heritage. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from