Modelling the effects of more selective trawl nets on the productivity of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) and deep-water rose shrimp (Parapenaeus longirostris) stocks in the Strait of Sicily
Keywords:Gadget, forecast, selectivity, sorting grids, trawl net, Strait of Sicily
Single-species Gadget models were used to assess the effects of using a sorting grid mounted on the traditional trawl net used by Sicilian trawlers to exploit the deep-water rose shrimp in the Strait of Sicily. The main commercial by-catch species of this fleet is the European hake (Merluccius merluccius), often caught at sizes well below the minimum conservation reference size. Selectivity curves based on the results of an experimental survey carried out in the area using a commercial trawler equipped with an ad hoc-designed sorting grid were incorporated into single-species Gadget models to forecast the effects of changing fishery selectivity on the performance of the two stocks in terms of catch and biomass. The models included catch data from the Italian, Tunisian and Maltese fleets as well as MEDITS trawl survey data for the period 2002-2016. Several scenarios were defined to simulate the effect of the Italian trawlers’ adopting the sorting grid under different stock-recruitment assumptions. The results obtained, when compared with status quo simulations of fishing without a sorting grid mounted on the trawl net, indicated a beneficial effect for both stocks in terms of an increase in biomass and for the fleets in terms of the amount and size composition of annual landings.
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