Journal Article

Separating species using a horizontal panel in the Scottish North Sea whitefish trawl fishery

R. S. T. Ferro, E. G. Jones, R. J. Kynoch, R. J. Fryer and B-E. Buckett

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 64, issue 8, pages 1543-1550
Published in print November 2007 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Separating species using a horizontal panel in the Scottish North Sea whitefish trawl fishery

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Ferro, R. S. T., Jones, E. G., Kynoch, R. J., Fryer, R. J., and Buckett, B-E. 2007. Separating species using a horizontal panel in the Scottish North Sea whitefish trawl fishery. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 64: 1543–1550.

In the North Sea, Scottish vessels target haddock, cod, whiting, monkfish, saithe, and flatfish in a mixed whitefish trawl fishery. These species mature at different sizes and hence have a range of minimum landing sizes. Their different shapes and swimming capabilities imply different selection characteristics when escaping from trawl gear. However, they are often caught at the same time on the same grounds. Optimal exploitation can only be achieved by ensuring that the selection of each species varies appropriately with length during the fishing process. This paper describes one part of a large European project to develop species-selective trawl gear to improve the exploitation pattern of North Sea cod, while maintaining the catch of other important commercial species. A gear suitable to the Scottish mixed whitefish fishery was fitted with a horizontal panel in the tapered part of the net to separate species into an upper and lower compartment. Trials were conducted on research vessels to measure separation performance for nine species in different light conditions, at different towing speeds, and with different lengths of panel. Most haddock, whiting, and saithe pass above the panel, whereas most cod, flatfish, and monkfish pass below it. Towing speed and panel length had no significant effect on separation. At lower light levels during the night (April at latitude 58° to 61°N), fewer dab, sole, plaice, and cod pass below the panel. Observations and measurements of fish behaviour using acoustic methods are described. They suggest that the height at which fish enter the net mouth may be influenced by light level and water clarity.

Keywords: cod; demersal otter trawl; light level; separating panel; species separation; towing speed

Journal Article.  4539 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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