Trawl hangs, baby fish, and closed areas: A win-win scenario

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Abstract

The frequency and geographic distribution of trawlnet hangs from a fishery-independent survey are evaluated. The hangs data were plotted on a substratum map to confirm that many, but not all, were naturally occurring, high relief substrata. The data were also coupled with the occurrence of juvenile cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) to assess the degree of association between juvenile gadoids and high relief substrata. The average minimal distance from a fish occurrence to a hang ranged from 8.1 to 12.0 km (4.4-6.5 nautical miles), well within the reported daily range of movement for these fish. A similar pattern was detected for the sea raven (Hemitripterus americanus), a predator of juvenile gadoids, confirming the location of these microhabitat foodwebs. On average, closing an area 3.7 km (2 nautical miles) around a hang will enclose 17-30% of the populations of these juvenile fish; a wider buffer (18-28 km; 10-15 nautical miles) will close a linearly increasing portion of the populations. Additionally, closing areas surrounding the hangs, particularly regions of high hang density, will help to minimize losses of or damage to fishing gear. We propose a win-win scenario by establishing or evaluating closed areas in regions with high concentrations of known hangs. This approach is widely applicable for many marine ecosystems and may help to achieve simultaneous conservation and resource management goals, whereby one can both protect pre-recruit fish and enhance the effectiveness of a fishery. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

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Link, J. S., & Demarest, C. (2003). Trawl hangs, baby fish, and closed areas: A win-win scenario. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 60(5), 930–938. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1054-3139(03)00131-0

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