FIS025: Novel approaches to fish catching and surveying using traps

FIS025 - Novel approaches to fish catching and surveying using traps

Contractor: Marine Scotland Science

The use of fish traps goes back hundreds of years in terms of man’s use of technology to catch fish. In Scotland passive gears used to catch fish are now commercially limited to pot and creel fishing for shellfish. However, in many other parts of the world baited fish traps/pots are used to fish for finfish species. For example: experimental cod pots have been observed to yield commercially viable catches as an alternative to gillnets along the coastline of Sweden (Königson et al., 2015) and preliminary trials of the use of fish traps in Scottish waters (FISA project 09/14). Research into the design, suitable fishing areas, potential species, and suitability of finfish pots/traps has been discussed, but little directed research undertaken. The support of a research project which examines and attempts to answer some of these questions may prove a first step in the diversification of fishing effort towards this type of fishery in Scotland. This has particular commercial relevance in areas which have been designated for static gear only.


In addition to the harvesting of finfish species for commercial reasons, it is possible that such techniques have relevance for stock surveys and assessments. A useful output from this study would be a consideration of how a fish census / monitoring element could be integrated into a trap fishery. One would need to consider the specification / design of traps used for the scientific (rather than fishery) purpose, and the strategy for deployment that provides meaningful data particularly in areas unsuitable for the use of trawl sampling techniques eg rocky seabeds.


Two types of ‘trap’ have potential for examination:


In addition, FIS is interested in the prospects for line-catching applications, either in locations / fisheries where they are not currently utilised, or as an additional tool for stock surveying.


FIS required research that:


Successful research into the design and operation of baited pots/traps for whitefish species, would provide an additional low impact method of fishing for the Scottish fishing industry.


To support a study in this field may open new opportunities for inshore; or offshore fishing using passive, low impact methods, with minimal issues around by-catch, or problems with discards. It could be of great benefit to industry if research identified a potential opportunity to fish in this way for commercially targeted species.


It is anticipated the research will move the sector closer to delivering best-possible selectivity in fishing activity and therefore a near-zero discard fishery. Such techniques will also hopefully generate real time data from the fishery in terms of multi-species population structure and spatial / temporal distribution, and foster active fishery / science collaboration.