Assessment of the relative catch performance of hake, red mullet and striped red mullet in a modified trawl extension with T90 netting
Keywords:catch comparison, demersal trawl fisheries, T90 net, mesh size, Mediterranean Sea
We studied the relative catch performance of a modified trawl fitted with an extension piece using a 90º turned mesh (T90) in comparison with a standard trawl net used in NW Mediterranean bottom trawl fisheries employing a diamond mesh net. The comparison was made by means of paired experimental hauls using the same fishing vessel with alternate deployments of the standard net (control) and the experimental net. We used the catch comparison approach for three target species of the fishery: European hake, red mullet and striped red mullet. Our results show that the experimental net significantly reduces the catches of small-size hake and red mullet (though there was no discernible difference for striped red mullet), reducing unwanted catches of regulated species under the Landings Obligation. The overall catch rates of hake, pooled over all sizes, also increased by an estimated 50%, while the catch rates of red mullet and striped red mullet were significantly lower. However, considering all commercial species, the experimental net produced losses of commercial catch and income estimated at 17% and 18%, respectively, which may pose a barrier to the adoption of this relatively simple, inexpensive solution.
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