A comparison of the deep-water demersal fish assemblages of the Rockall Trough and Porcupine Seabight, eastern North Atlantic: continental slope to rise


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Fishery surveys of the continental slope to the west of the British Isles have shown quite marked differences between areas in both the proportion and abundance of marketable or potentially marketable species. In general, the northern slopes lying to the west of Scotland were considered to have a greater potential for exploitation than the southern slopes off Ireland. Subsequent detailed studies of a northern (Rockall Trough) and a southern slope area (Porcupine Seabight) sampled the demersal fish fauna using a Granton trawl fished on paired warps to depths of 1200 m, and a semi-balloon trawl fished on a single warp to depths of about 3000 m. The Granton trawl catches differed significantly between the two areas, especially at the greatest depths fished. The semi-balloon trawl catches did not differ between the areas. This slower trawl was poor at catching large, mobile species and efficient in the capture of the deep-waler eel Synaphobranchus kaupi. This eel was numerically dominant over the mid to lower slope and probably accounts for much of the similarity between areas at these depths.