Improving gear selectivity of whiting ( Merlangius merlangus ) on board French demersal trawlers in the English Channel and North Sea

Type Article
Date 2017-09
Language English
Author(s) Vogel CamilleORCID1, 2, Kopp DorotheeORCID1, Morandeau Fabien1, Morfin Marie1, Mehault Sonia1
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Dept Biol Resources & Environm, Fisheries Sci & Technol Res Unit, Lab Fisheries Technol & Fish Biol RBE STH LTBH, 8 Rue Francois Toullec, F-56100 Lorient, France.
2 : IFREMER, Dept Biol Resources & Environm Fisheries Sci Engl, Fisheries Resources Lab, Ave Gen de Gaulle, F-14520 Port En Bessin Huppain, France.
Source Fisheries Research (0165-7836) (Elsevier Science Bv), 2017-09 , Vol. 193 , P. 207-216
DOI 10.1016/j.fishres.2017.04.013
WOS© Times Cited 1
Keyword(s) Square mesh, Sorting grids, Fishing gear technology, Merlangius merlangus, Catch comparison, GLMM

In the English Channel and Southern Bight, French demersal trawlers target a mix of demersal species including whiting (Merlangius merlangus). The discard ban to be implemented in January 2016 motivated fishermen to look for technical measures to reduce unwanted catches of undersized individuals (<27 cm). From 2008–2014, 18 different gear configurations were tested for bycatch reduction on board fleets of vessels of 16–20 m and 20–24 m. Selective devices tested included grids, square mesh panels (SMP), square mesh cylinders (SMC), various combinations of these devices and large mesh trawls. Using the catch comparison method, our results focus on six devices that proved efficient to reduce catches of undersized whiting, equally divided between the two vessel size groups. Large mesh trawls are not adequate to improve whiting size selectivity with losses of commercial size fish. The mandatory 80-mm SMP was efficient at letting undersized whiting escape from the trawl for both vessel length classes. Its efficiency was enhanced when it was positioned 6–9 m ahead of the codline compared with that placed at 12–15 m. The most appropriate bar spacing for whiting size-selectivity was found in a flexigrid with 23 mm bar spacing, but this required a large portion of square mesh netting to be installed ahead of it (SMP and SMC) to limit catches of undersized individuals. The most promising device tested was an 80 mm SMC, either 2 m long and used alone or 1 m long and used in association with the mandatory SMP; these setups allowed significant escapes of fish up to 25 cm in length. For both SMP and SMC, a mesh size equal to or larger than 100 mm led to losses of commercial size whiting.

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