Virginia Institute of Marine Science
ICES Journal Of Marine Science
Alteration and degradation of benthic structure by fishing gear can impede efforts to manage fish stock sustainably. Although the impacts of mobile gear are well known, effects of passive gear (e.g. fish traps) upon structure have been little studied. We modified commercial traps for American lobster Homarus americanus and black sea bass Centropristis striata by attaching GoPro (R) cameras to ascertain the degree and nature of impacts to seafloor habitats. Customized traps were included within a line of 20 traps, deployed and retrieved according to standard commercial fishing practice. Less than 5% of traps landed directly on bedforms when deployed. However, during retrieval traps dragged along the ocean floor, increasing trap-habitat contact rate to 50%, and causing traps to collide with corals, bryozoans, and other epifauna. Drag time of traps depended on the position in the trap line. Experimentally extending the trap line reduced drag time during retrieval for traps near the distal end of the line. Our results show that impacts of commercial trap fishing can be substantial during trap retrieval, and that the impact depends on their location on a trap line. Fishing practices should be developed that minimize effects of trap retrieval on structural benthic habitat.
Sea-Floor Habitat; Fishing Gear; Halipteris-Willemoesi; Patch Size; Fragmentation; Sediment; Reef; Vulnerability; Disturbance; Fisheries
Schweitzer, Cara C.; Lipcius, Rom; and Stevens, Bradley G., Impacts of a multi-trap line on benthic habitat containing emergent epifauna within the Mid-Atlantic Bight (2018). ICES Journal Of Marine Science, 75(6), 2202-2212.