Scientia Marina, Vol 82, No S1 (2018)

Linking trawl fleet dynamics and the spatial distribution of exploited species can help to avoid unwanted catches: the case of the NW Mediterranean fishing grounds


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.04755.17A

Alfredo Garcia-de-Vinuesa
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6645-6217

Iván Sola
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2972-614X

Federico Quattrocchi
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1802-8496

Francesc Maynou
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7200-6485

Montserrat Demes
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2866-4821

Abstract


With the full implementation of the landing obligation on 1 January 2019, In European waters it will become mandatory for the trawling fleet to land at port all catches of certain species because, according to Article 15 of the new European Common Fisheries Policy, the species subject to the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS) cannot be discarded. Additionally, since 2005, trawlers over 15 m in length are required to carry an onboard vessel monitoring system (VMS), which generates information on fleet dynamics. The objective of this work was to provide a tool for avoiding unwanted catches by integrating the catch study of trawlers operating in the port of Blanes together with VMS data. To achieve this objective, the catches of 40 hauls were monitored, sampled and analysed together with VMS data for the years 2012-2014 integrated in a geographical information system. The results show that specimens below the MCRS were often captured in crinoid aggregation habitats, bottoms with maërl and muddy bottoms that were identified as nursery habitats of commercial species, e.g. Merluccius merluccius, Pagellus spp. and Mullus spp. VMS data showed considerable fishing pressure on areas with maërl and muddy habitats during the recruitment periods of these and other commercially relevant species. Implementing spatial or seasonal closures in habitats where species regulated by the MCRS are subject to catches could be a useful tool for preventing unwanted catches.

Keywords


unwanted catches; northwestern Mediterranean; trawl fishery; discard; VMS; MCRS

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