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Assessment of size selectivity in hydraulic clam dredge fisheries

Sala, Antonello, Brčić, Jure, Herrmann, Bent, Lucchetti, Alessandro, Virgili, Massimo
Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 2016 v.74 no.3 pp. 339-348
clams, fisheries, fisheries management, models
In hydraulic dredge clam fisheries, the onboard mechanical sorting can be considered as the main catch selection process. The catch is mechanically sorted by a sieve made up of a series of successive grids with holes of decreasing diameter. The effect of the grid hole diameter and sorting speed of the vibrating sieve of a hydraulic dredger was investigated in a field study to determine its clam selection properties and to formulate proposals aimed at improving fishery management. Data analysis demonstrates that it is technically impossible to achieve a knife-edge selection and that there is scope for improving the size selection process, for instance by increasing grid hole diameter, which, however, can be accompanied by a reduced catch of both undersized and commercial-sized individuals. An increase in the hole diameter to 21.71 mm, while ensuring less than 5% retention of undersized individuals, would entail a retention of 67% of the commercial sizes. The modelling approach applied can be extended to investigations of other dredge gear types and nonmobile benthic species.