Reducing discard mortality in an estuarine trawl fishery

Matt K. Broadhurst, Sebastian S. Uhlmann, Russell B. Millar

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    A purpose-built, water-filled sorting tray was compared against a conventional dry tray for its utility in reducing discard mortality across a range of conditions in an Australian estuarine penaeid-trawl fishery, including the limits of typical delays in starting sorting (2 vs. 15 min). During nine days of fishing, up to 10 replicate deployments were done for each sorting method and delay. Bycatches (44 389 teleosts comprising 15 species) were assessed for their immediate mortalities, before 1346 live individuals (10 species) were released (to simulate discarding) into replicate cages and monitored for their short-term mortalities over five days. Appropriate controls were included for the most abundant economically-important species, yellowfin bream, Acanthopagrus australis. Most trawled-and-discarded teleosts followed a pattern of minimal differences in immediate mortalities between sorting methods for the short delay, but generally fewer deaths in the water tray than in the conventional tray during the longer delay. However, owing to a dominant and slightly protracted influence of the trawling process, comparable rates of deaths were observed for caged fish irrespective of their post-capture treatment. Mixed-effects logistic models applied to four key species (A. australis; silver biddy, Gerres subfasciatus; southern herring, Herklotsichthys castelnaui; and Port Jackson glassfish, Ambassis jacksoniensis) revealed that in addition to the method and delay in sorting, the weights of total catch and jellyfish, salinity and the size of fish also had significant impacts on mortality. For the longer delay in sorting in the water tray, the influences of some of the other factors were negated so that total mortalities of three of the modelled species were reduced by almost one quarter. We conclude that while unaccounted fishing mortality can be reduced via changes to onboard sorting procedures, this approach should only be applied ancillary to efficient gear selectivity. Crown Copyright © 2008.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
    Pagina's (van-tot)54-61
    Aantal pagina's8
    ISSN0022-0981
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 12-sep-2008

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