Macrobenthic community changes were assessed in relation to different levels of fishing intensity following a before—after, control—impact experimental design with a control, a moderately impacted area, and a highly impacted area. Samples were collected before, immediately after, and 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 30, and 120 days after fishing. Communities in fished areas showed short-term significant effects on abundance, number of species, biomass, and diversity 1–3 days after fishing, with fished areas presenting lower mean values than the control. The opposite pattern was found for the carnivore-to-suspension feeding ratio. The main taxonomic groups showed different responses to fishing. Only gastropod abundance and the abundance of the polychaete families Pectinariidae and Sabellidae showed persistent negative effects of fishing. The effects on these polychaete families confirms the sensitivity of sedentary and suspension feeders to fishing. Some variables presented slightly higher negative effects with fishing intensity, but differences were subtle. Between 30 days and 120 days, a period of storms occurred, resulting in a general decrease of biological variables in all areas. This decrease was usually more pronounced than after fishing. The general short-term effects of fishing observed may reflect the resilience of communities that are able to cope with frequent natural disturbance events.
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Vol. 30 • No. 2