Surface selection of haddock and cod in the Norwegian demersal seine fisheries
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Size selection in active fishing gears is a continuous process and undersized fish may escape during the whole fishing operation. Fish that escape during the surface hauling operation are likely to experience higher mortality due to barotrauma-related stress than fish escaping at the fishing depth during the towing process. A well-functioning selectivity device should therefore select mostly at depth for enhancing survival probabilities of escaping fish. The current gear regulation in the Norwegian demersal seine fishery is likely to cause large proportion of undersized fish to escape at the surface. In this study, we estimated surface selection of haddock and cod in demersal seine by using an automatic release system and a small meshed codend that collected fish escaping during surface hauling. The collecting bag contained 19% undersized haddock compared to 10% in the conventional square-mesh codend indicating that about 50% of undersized haddock brought to the surface were released. The proportions of undersized cod were 8% for the collecting bag and 1% for the conventional square-mesh codend. These results demonstrate that surface selection is significant for both haddock and cod. Based on this finding, we discuss methods to improve size selectivity at the fishing depth.