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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Ecological value of coastal habitats for commercially and ecologically important species

Seitz, Rochelle D.; Wennhage, Håkan; Bergström, Ulf; Lipcius, Romuald N.; Ysebaert, Tom


Many exploited fish and macroinvertebrates that utilize the coastal zone have declined, and the causes of these declines, apart from overfishing, remain largely unresolved. Degradation of essential habitats has resulted in habitats that are no longer adequate to fulfil nursery, feeding, or reproductive functions, yet the degree to which coastal habitats are important for exploited species has not been quantified. Thus, we reviewed and synthesized literature on the ecological value of coastal habitats (i.e. seagrass beds, shallow subtidal and intertidal habitats, kelp beds, shallow open water habitats, saltmarshes, mussel beds, macroalgal beds, rocky bottom, and mariculture beds) as feeding grounds, nursery areas, spawning areas, and migration routes of 59 taxa, for which the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) gives management advice, and another 12 commercially or ecologically important species. In addition, we provide detailed information on coastal habitat use for plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), cod (Gadus morhua), brown shrimp (Crangon crangon), and European lobster (Homarus gammarus). Collectively, 44 of all ICES species utilized coastal habitats, and these stocks contributed 77 of the commercial landings of ICES-advice species, indicating that coastal habitats are critical to population persistence and fishery yield of ICES species. These findings will aid in defining key habitats for protection and restoration and provide baseline information needed to define knowledge gaps for quantifying the habitat value for exploited fish and invertebrates.


feeding; fisheries; migration; nursery; reproduction; spawning

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2014, Volume: 71, number: 3, pages: 648-665