An assessment of scup (Stenotomus chrysops) and black sea bass (Centropristas striata) discards in the directed otter trawl fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic Bight

Eleanor Bochenek, Eric N. Powell, Allison J. Bonner, Sarah E. Banta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study was undertaken to re-assess the level of scup (Stenotomus chrysops) discards by weight and to evaluate the effect of various codend mesh sizes on the level of scup discards in the winter-trawl scup fishery. Scup discards were high in directed scup tows regardless of codend mesh - typically one to five times the weight of landings. The weight of scup discards in the present study did not differ significantly from that recorded in scup-targeted tows in the NMFS observer database. Most discards were required as such by the 22.86 cm TL (total length) fish-size limit for catches. Mesh sizes ≤12.7 cm, including the current legal mesh size (11.43 cm) did not adequately filter out scup smaller than 22.86 cm. The median length of scup discards was about 19.83 cm TL. Lowering the legal size for scup from 22.86 to 19.83 cm TL would greatly reduce discard mortality. Scup discards were a small fraction (0.4%) of black sea bass (Centropristis striata) landings in black-sea-bass-targeted tows. The black sea bass fishery is currently regulated under the small-mesh fishery gear-restricted area plan in which fishing is prohibited in some areas to reduce scup mortality. Our study found no evidence to support the efficacy of this management approach. The expectations that discarding would increase disproportionately as the trip limit (limit [in kilograms] on catch for a species) was reached towards the end of the trip and that discards would increase when the trip limit was reduced from 4536 kg to 454 kg at the end of the directed fishing season were not supported. Trip limits did not significantly affect discard mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalFishery Bulletin
Volume103
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science

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