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Is square-mesh better selective than larger mesh? A perspective on the management for Mediterranean trawl fisheries

Sala, Antonello, Lucchetti, Alessandro, Perdichizzi, Anna, Herrmann, Bent, Rinelli, Paola
Fisheries research 2015 v.161 pp. 182-190
European Union, Mullus barbatus, equipment design, fish, fisheries, issues and policy, juveniles, shrimp, trawl nets, Italy, Mediterranean Sea
Relatively little scientific work has been done to assess the selectivity of square-mesh codends in the highly variable multi-species conditions in the Italian trawl fisheries. Therefore this study was initiated to investigate the effect of using square-mesh and larger diamond-mesh codends on size selectivity of deepwater red shrimp (Aristaeomorpha foliacea) and red mullet (Mullus barbatus), with possible implication in future management measures. Four different codends were used in the sea trials. When size selection estimates are applied for management issues it is not sufficient only to consider the mean size selection parameters. It also needs to consider the effect of between-haul variations in the selection process. In the current study, potential consequences of the between-haul variation on the selection curves have been considered by applying a pooled curve with a double bootstrap approach. The results attained in the present study indicate that the use of 40mm square-mesh codend results in a 50% retention length (L50) similar to that of the 50mm diamond-mesh codend, but with a steeper selection range (SR). For red mullet, both 50mm diamond-mesh and 40mm square-mesh codends lead to an L50 that is higher than the minimum landing size (MLS, 11cm). Deepwater red shrimp is not subject to any MLS and may always be landed legally. However, large amounts of juveniles of deepwater red shrimp have been retained in all codends. Council Regulation (EC) No. 1967/2006 called for a discard reduction policy in waters under the jurisdiction of the European Union. As demonstrated in the current paper, to simultaneously improve the size selectivity of fish and shrimp species can be difficult due to large differences in their morphological characteristics, therefore it may question whether more sophisticated alternative of selective devices, such as grids or square-mesh panels, could be implemented in some Mediterranean fisheries.