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Title: First characterisation of a Leiopathes glaberrima (Cnidaria : Anthozoa : Antipatharia) forest in Maltese exploited fishing grounds
Authors: Deidun, Alan
Andaloro, Franco
Bavestrello, Giorgio
Canese, Simonepietro
Consoli, Pierpaolo
Micallef, Aaron
Romeo, Teresa
Bo, M.
Keywords: Black corals
Fishing -- Malta
Crustacea -- Mediterranean Sea
Sicily, Strait of
Cnidaria -- Malta
Anthozoa -- Malta
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Deidun, A., Andaloro, F., Bavestrello, G., Canese, S., Consoli, P., Micallef, A., ... & Bo, M. (2014). First characterisation of a Leiopathes glaberrima (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Antipatharia) forest in Maltese exploited fishing grounds. Italian Journal of Zoology, 82(2), 1-100.
Abstract: A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) survey conducted in the deep (250–400 m) Maltese waters in 2013 revealed, for the first time, the characteristics of an extended coral forest, constituted almost exclusively by the arborescent, longevous black coral Leiopathes glaberrima. This species is a major component of the deep coral forests of the Mediterranean Sea and its occurrence in dense populations greatly enhances the benthic biodiversity of the sites in question. The existence of such a complex benthic ecosystem is particularly interesting for Malta, since this area represented, in the 1980s, the only sanctioned site within the Mediterranean basin for the commercial exploitation of black corals. The occurrence of the large black coral population hints that, at least within the investigated area, the coral resource has not greatly suffered from past coral harvesting activities. The major current concern, however, is represented by the massive anthropogenic impact due to benthic fishing activities carried out on the rocky bank, as evidenced by the high amount of discarded fishing gear directly impacting the specimens. The data here presented, despite being preliminary in nature, suggests that the investigated benthic area should be considered a vulnerable marine ecosystem valuable for future scientific monitoring exercises. Appropriate benthic fishing restrictions for the area in question, which might be considered for inclusion within an marine protected area (MPA), should be contemplated.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacSciGeo

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