A Flexible Sorting Grid to Reduce Rockfish Bycatch in the U.S. Pacific Hake Fishery

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 9:40 AM
Conway (The Marriott Little Rock)
Mark J.M. Lomeli , Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Newport, OR
W. Waldo Wakefield , Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division-Northwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Newport, OR
This study examined two versions of a flexible sorting grid rockfish excluder in the 2012 U.S. west coast Pacific hake fishery. The designs tested (design-A and B) were developed following a collaborative workshop held between gear researchers and Pacific hake fishing industry participants. Escapement was quantified using a recapture net. Both designs retained a relatively high proportion of Pacific hake, > 93%. However, the two designs did not perform equally with design-B being much more effective at reducing bycatch. Results showed rockfish bycatch was reduced by 70% under design-B and only 15% under design-A. A reduction in Chinook salmon catch, a prohibited take species, was also noted. Unfortunately, under heavy fish volumes both designs tended to clog. Following this project the Pacific hake fishing industry continued to experiment with design-B to improve the gears performance. Project findings suggest there is potential for reducing rockfish bycatch in the Pacific hake fishery using a flexible sorting grid excluder. Insights and lessons learned during this project and from industries use of the excluder are currently being exchanged in a collaborative effort to modify design-B for further testing in 2013. Results from 2012 and sea trials conducted in 2013 will be presented.