Linking trawl fleet dynamics and the spatial distribution of exploited species can help to avoid unwanted catches: the case of the NW Mediterranean fishing grounds
Alfredo Garcia-de-Vinuesa, Iván Sola, Federico Quattrocchi, Francesc Maynou, Montserrat Demestre

With the full implementation of the landing obligation on 1 January 2019, In European waters it will become mandatory for the trawling fleet to land at port all catches of certain species because, according to Article 15 of the new European Common Fisheries Policy, the species subject to the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS) cannot be discarded. Additionally, since 2005, trawlers over 15 m in length are required to carry an onboard vessel monitoring system (VMS), which generates information on fleet dynamics. The objective of this work was to provide a tool for avoiding unwanted catches by integrating the catch study of trawlers operating in the port of Blanes together with VMS data. To achieve this objective, the catches of 40 hauls were monitored, sampled and analysed together with VMS data for the years 2012-2014 integrated in a geographical information system. The results show that specimens below the MCRS were often captured in crinoid aggregation habitats, bottoms with maërl and muddy bottoms that were identified as nursery habitats of commercial species, e.g. Merluccius merluccius, Pagellus spp. and Mullus spp. VMS data showed considerable fishing pressure on areas with maërl and muddy habitats during the recruitment periods of these and other commercially relevant species. Implementing spatial or seasonal closures in habitats where species regulated by the MCRS are subject to catches could be a useful tool for preventing unwanted catches.

Keywords: unwanted catches; northwestern Mediterranean; trawl fishery; discard; VMS; MCRS.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 82S1 : 165-174 Back PDF
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