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Describes how assessment of fishing impacts depends on gear type, number and location of bottom tows, and the physical and biological characteristics of seafloor habitats. Many US experimental studies have documented acute, gear-specific effects of trawling and dredging on various types of habitat. These studies indicate that low mobility, long-lived species are more vulnerable to towed fishing gear than short-lived species in areas where the seabed is often disturbed by natural phenomena. Trawling and dredging may also change the composition and productivity of fish communities dependent on seafloor habitats for food and refuge.