Journal Article

Trawl hangs, baby fish, and closed areas: a win–win scenario

Jason S Link and Chad Demarest

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 5, pages 930-938
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Trawl hangs, baby fish, and closed areas: a win–win scenario

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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The frequency and geographic distribution of trawlnet hangs from a fishery-independent survey are evaluated. The hangs data were plotted on a substratum map to confirm that many, but not all, were naturally occurring, high relief substrata. The data were also coupled with the occurrence of juvenile cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) to assess the degree of association between juvenile gadoids and high relief substrata. The average minimal distance from a fish occurrence to a hang ranged from 8.1 to 12.0 km (4.4–6.5 nautical miles), well within the reported daily range of movement for these fish. A similar pattern was detected for the sea raven (Hemitripterus americanus), a predator of juvenile gadoids, confirming the location of these microhabitat foodwebs. On average, closing an area 3.7 km (2 nautical miles) around a hang will enclose 17–30% of the populations of these juvenile fish; a wider buffer (18–28 km; 10–15 nautical miles) will close a linearly increasing portion of the populations. Additionally, closing areas surrounding the hangs, particularly regions of high hang density, will help to minimize losses of or damage to fishing gear. We propose a win–win scenario by establishing or evaluating closed areas in regions with high concentrations of known hangs. This approach is widely applicable for many marine ecosystems and may help to achieve simultaneous conservation and resource management goals, whereby one can both protect pre-recruit fish and enhance the effectiveness of a fishery.

Keywords: benthic ecology; cod; fisheries management; gear effects and efficiency; haddock; Marine Protected Areas; NW Atlantic; sea raven

Journal Article.  3682 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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