Bottom-trawl fisheries may supply us with much of the tasty fish we like to enjoy, but it does come with its problems. Also known as ‘dragging’, bottom trawling essentially involves dragging a large net, held open either with a beam (beam trawling) or large metal/wooden ‘doors’ (otter trawling) along the sea bed, or just above it. It is used to catch a range of commercial species like cod, shrimp, flounder, and halibut. One of the problems of trawling is that it is not a very selective form of fishing. Other species are caught in the process, and this bycatch can include at risk species such as skates, rays and sharks. As well as ecological implications, bycatch can be bad for fishers, who often end up throwing away bycatch either because it isn’t worth anything, or because they are not allowed to land it. Bycatch reduction is a win-win for fishers and for the marine life caught.
Reducing bycatch of sharks, rays, and skates (collectively known as elasmobranchs) in bottom trawls is one of the many fishery-related issues on the mind of scientists at Marine Scotland Science. As this piece of research from the Marine Scotland Science team shows, one possible solution (though not perfect) may not be all that tricky to implement. Continue reading “Reducing bycatch of skates and rays – stop tickling them!”