Release efficiency and selectivity of four different square mesh panel configurations in the Basque mixed bottom trawl fishery
Keywords:square mesh panel, LED lights, trawl fishery, release efficiency, hake, blue whiting
Reduction of discards from the Basque mixed bottom trawl fishery is a challenge. To improve the selective properties of the gear used by the fleet and supplement codend size selection, a square mesh panel (SMP) installed in the upper panel of the trawl was introduced in 2006. However, recent studies have shown that the release efficiency of this SMP is low due to lack of contact between the fish and the SMP. In this study, we tested the release efficiency of the SMP for four different gear configurations. We tested the effect of adding LED lights at two different positions and altering panel size and panel position in the trawl. The analyses were focused on two species: hake (Merluccius merluccius) and blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou). The results showed that the position of LED lights did not significantly affect the SMP’s release efficiency for any species. However, increasing panel size had a significant positive effect on the release efficiency of blue whiting, and placing the SMP in the lower panel improved the release efficiency of hake. These results highlight the challenge of simultaneously improving the selective properties of gear for species with different behaviour, especially in mixed demersal fisheries.
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