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Behavioural changes of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) after marine boulder reef restoration: Implications for coastal habitat management and Natura 2000 areas

Kristensen, L. D., Støttrup, J. G., Svendsen, J. C., Stenberg, C., Højbjerg Hansen, O. K., Grønkjær, P.
Fisheries management and ecology 2017 v.24 no.5 pp. 353-360
Gadus morhua, acoustics, behavior change, fish, habitat conservation, habitats, reefs, telemetry
While marine reefs are degraded globally, the responses of fish to marine reef restoration remain uncertain, particularly in temperate waters. This study measured the effect of marine boulder reef restoration on the behaviour of Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L., in a Natura 2000 area using acoustic telemetry. Cod were tagged and released in the study area before and after the restoration and tracked continuously for six months. A larger fraction of the released fish remained in the study area after restoration (94%) than before (53%). Moreover, throughout the study period, cod spent significantly more hours per day and prolonged their residence time in the study area after the restoration. The study indicates that marine reefs subjected to boulder extraction can be restored and function as favourable cod habitats. Temperate marine boulder reef restoration represents a valuable management tool to improve habitats for temperate fish species.