Opportunities for the Reduction of Skate Bycatch in Atlantic Canada Trawl Fisheries: A Case Study of two Innovative Trawl Gear Designs [graduate project]
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Skates are fish under the Subclass of elasmobranchii, typically found in temperate or arctic waters. Catch of skates pose a number of issues for fishers as bycatch including increased handling effort, reduced value of target catch, and clogging of gear. Discarding of skates in Canadian trawl fisheries has led to significant declines in the abundance of a number of skate species. The Eliminator TrawlTM, designed in the US has shown success in reducing the catch of skates and other groundfish. Similarly, the Radial Escape Section trawl gear has also proven useful in reducing bycatch of larger fish. The ability of either gear to reduce catch of groundfish is key to aiding in the recovery of a number of groundfish species currently under moratorium. Specifically, use of the Eliminator TrawlTM is promising given its success with reducing bycatch both in benthic and pelagic trawls. A pilot project testing these gears at-sea and benefiting from fishers’ knowledge of the fishery is an ideal first step towards use of either of these trawls and the recovery of threatened skates populations.