Mortality of North Sea herring that is crowded and subsequently slipped from a purse seine
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Catch regulation by slipping whole or parts of the catch has traditionally been used in NE-Atlantic purse seine fisheries for pelagic species if the catches are considered too big or the quality or size of the fish is considered unsatisfactory. This is particularly the case when the prize differs between sizes or quality groups of fish (high grading) as is often found with herring. No information is, however, available on the survival rate of herring that is slipped from the purse seine or how significant this mortality is in relation to total fishing mortality. The aim of this study is to quantify mortality of herring crowded to different degrees in the purse seine and subsequently slipped. Large-scale open-sea survival experiments were carried out in the North Sea in 2008 and in 2009. Herring caught by purse seine were allowed to swim from the seine to large circular net pens in an early phase of hauling. Commercial crowding conditions were simulated by lifting the bottom of the net pen. The mortality rate four to five days after crowding ranged from 1.8% in the least crowded to 50.7% and 52.0% in the hardest crowded groups. Control group mortality was low, between 0.9% and 2.0%. These results provide important information on what crowding densities can be tolerated in the purse seine fisheries for herring and suggest a need to revise the legislation on slipping in these fisheries. Keywords: unaccounted mortality, slipping, purse seine, herring, crowding