The use of a square mesh codend and sorting grids to reduce catches of young fish and improve sustainability in a multispecies bottom trawl fishery in the Mediterranean
Francisco Sardà, Nixon Bahamon, Balbina Molí and Francesc Sardà-Palomera

In order to improve the capacity of bottom trawl fishing gears to reduce catches of young fish and discards in a highly exploited demersal trawl fisheries in the Mediterranean, the size-selection performance of a 36-mm square-mesh codend and two sorting grids with 20 and 15 mm bar spacing was assessed. Alternate hauls were used to assess the selectivity of 36-mm square-mesh codend. Selectivity of sorting grids was assessed using a double codend in which fish that escaped through the grid were captured in the lower codend while other fish were guided into the upper codend. The mean selection length (L50) for European hake was 18.5 cm and that for the Atlantic horse mackerel was 14.0 cm with the 36-mm square-mesh codend . These values are close to their current minimum landing sizes (20 cm for hake and 12 cm for horse mackerel). The sorting grid with 20-mm bar spacing showed L50 value of 13.3 cm for hake, suggesting that a larger grid-spacing would be needed to obtain sufficient sorting performance. Similarly, for Atlantic mackerel the estimated L50 of 14.3 cm indicates that larger grid spacing is required to attain an L50 that would be close to the current MLS (18 cm). For Atlantic horse mackerel and red mullet, the L50 obtained with the sorting grid with 20-mm bar spacing was close to the MLS of these species (the MLS of red mullet is 11 cm). The selectivity of the sorting grid with 15-mm bar spacing was generally very poor. Size-selection performance of sorting grids was assessed for the first time in the local fisheries. In order to effectively improve size-selection, seasonal and depth-dependent differences between target and by-catch species must be taken into account, which is a good indicator of the difficulty of implementing a single mesh size or grid spacing in the Mediterranean demersal trawl fishery.

Keywords: Mediterranean Sea, sorting grid, square mesh, selectivity, multispecies fishery, bottom trawl, European hake, Atlantic horse mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, red mullet.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 70(3) : 347-353 Back PDF
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