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The Effects of Off-Bottom Ground Gear on....
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GRANT NUMBER:  NA76FD0141          NMFS NUMBER:   96-NER-098

REPORT TITLE:  The Effects of Off-Bottom Ground Gear on Flatfish Catches in the Southern New England Whiting Fishery

AUTHOR: Dana L. Morse

PUBLISH DATE:  September 14, 1999

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries, Northeast Region, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.  TELEPHONE:  (978) 281-9267

ABSTRACT

Bycatch of regulated ground fish species, primarily flatfish, have been a constrant issue in New England fisheries for whiting (Merluccius bilinearis).  Gear modifications in present use in the fishery all occur behind the wing ends, such as the use of sorting grates, or raised footropes. Previous work indicates that it may be possible to select against flatfish from whiting catches by adjusting the ground gear and bridles.  In this study, three modifications to traditional ground used in whiting trawls were examined, testing their efficacy in reducing flatfish catches, by raising the ground gear off the seabed.  Experiment #1 employed 12"-diameter rubber bunt bobbins placed along the ground gear and lower leg of the bridle.  Experiment #2 employed 18" bunt bobbins, and experiment #3 examined the use of 18" bobbins in conjunction with trawl floats placed along the cables. Statistically significant reduction in the catch rate for two flatfish species occurred in the third set of trials, without significant reduction in the catch rate of whiting.

 
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