Spatial and temporal trend in the abundance and distributions of gurnards (Pisces: Triglidae) in the North Mediterranean Sea

Triglidae Mediterranean Sea trawl by-catch MEDITS fishing pressure


In this study we investigated the spatio-temporal distribution of gurnards (8 species of Triglidae and one species of Peristediidae) in the northern Mediterranean Sea using 22 years of MEDITS bottom trawl survey data (1994-2015). Gurnards showed significant differences in terms of abundance, dominance and composition among geographical sub-areas and ecoregions, with the highest relative biomass (BIy) being found in Malta, eastern Corsica, the Balearic Islands and the eastern Ionian Sea. The lowest gurnards BIy were observed in the highly exploited areas of the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea, where the largest number of species with a negative linear trend in BIy was also found. The temporal trends in species abundances highlighted a general decrease for the coastal species (C. lucerna, C. lastoviza, C. obscurus) as compared with the species inhabiting the deep continental shelf and slope (T. lyra, P. cataphractum). The results provide for the first time an overview of the spatiotemporal trend in the abundance of gurnards over the wide spatial scale of the northern Mediterranean Sea, also suggesting the possible use of these species as indicators for monitoring the impact of fishing pressure on demersal fish assemblages.