Virginia Institute of Marine Science
MARINE AND COASTAL FISHERIES
The use of fisheries-independent trawl survey data to estimate fish abundance in shallow coastal systems can present challenges for producing reliable population estimates. We used hydroacoustic and trawl data to estimate the catch efficiency of a demersal trawl that is presently used in surveys to support stock assessments in Chesapeake Bay, USA. Specifically, we determined the efficiency of catching Atlantic croakers Micropogonias undulatus and white perch Morone americana, two of the most common species captured in the trawl survey. Monotypic hauls (>90% by abundance) from 2003 to 2004 were used to estimate catch efficiency, defined as the ratio of the observed catch to the number of fish encountered by the trawl, which we estimated by deploying a scientific echosounder directly in front of the trawl net. The catch efficiency estimates ranged from 0.18 to 1.26 for Atlantic croakers (n - 29 tows) and from 0.11 to 0.60 for white perch (n = 7 tows). For Atlantic croakers, Spearman's rank correlation between the total and predicted catch was 0.53. A post hoc analysis of the Atlantic croaker efficiency estimates based on general linear modeling suggests that trawl efficiency is a function of fish behavior, gear geometry, and habitat. Efficiency declined with increasing fish density and increasing trawl width; to lesser extent, an increasing proportion of fines in the sea bed and decreasing depth were also associated with declines in efficiency. We conclude that because catch efficiency is variable, the trawl should be integrated with hydroacoustics to obtain improved population data.
We thank Captain L. Durand Ward and the crew of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science R/V Bay Eagle for field assistance. James Gartland and Eric Brasseur also provided field assistance, Andrij Horodysky provided artistic assistance, and two anonymous reviewers offered helpful comments. Funding for this research was provided by the Virginia Environmental Endowment and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chesapeake Bay Office. This is the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Contribution Number 3022.
Joel C. Hoffman , Chris F. Bonzek & Robert J. Latour (2009) Estimation of Bottom Trawl Catch Efficiency for Two Demersal Fishes, the Atlantic Croaker and White Perch, in Chesapeake Bay, Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 1:1, 255-269, DOI: 10.1577/C08-048.1