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Most of the major impacts of fishing on the ecosystems recorded around the world occur in the Mediterranean. This variety of interactions is due to four main interrelated factors: the wide range of fishing gear and practices; very intensive fishing; a high diversity of exploited habitats, ranging from shallow waters to the deep-sea and oceanic domain; and high biological diversity. Populations of elasmobranchs (mainly rays and pelagic sharks), seabirds, marine turtles and marine mammals (including the monk seal) are heavily impacted by poorly selective fishing gears and practices, as well as by other fishing-related effects, such as reduced trophic availability. High bycatch figures resulting from the continued use of illegal, high-impact gears such as driftnets are of special concern. Benthic communities are also subject to high impact from towed gears and other aggressive practices. Recent studies show that the ecosystem effects of fishing in the Mediterranean are also conspicuous at the systemic level, as highlighted by the massive ecological footprint of fishing or the marked effects on the overall food web structure.

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