Effects of bycatch reduction devices in Queensland's (Australia) deepwater eastern king prawn (Melicertus plebejus) trawl fishery

Anthony Courtney, Matthew Campbell, M Tonks, Darren Roy, S Gaddes, J Haddy, Peter Kyne, David Mayer, K Chilcott

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    This paper quantifies the effects of a square mesh codend bycatch reduction device (BRD) and turtle excluder device (TED) in the deepwater eastern king prawn (Melicertus plebejus) fishery on the southeast Queensland coast, based upon on a 10-day research charter. The bycatch comprised 224 taxa, mainly gurnards, flatheads, sandpaper fish, hermit and charybdid crabs, mantis shrimps, sand dollars (i.e. sea urchins), dragonets, snipefish, carids and lizardfish. The total mean bycatch rate was comparatively low (1114.0 g ha−1 from the standard diamond mesh codend), mainly because of the relatively deep waters associated with the fishery. When the TED and square mesh codend BRD were used together the total mean bycatch rate was significantly reduced by 29% (796.0 g ha−1) compared to the standard codend, with no significant effect on the prawn catch rate or size frequency distribution. Several bycatch species experienced very large reductions in mean catch rate, due to the square mesh codend, including Graham's conger Gnathophis grahamii (98.2% reduction), dumpling squid Euprymna tasmanica (95.9%), shortsnout threadsail Aulopus curtirostris (90.6%) and sandpaper fish Aulotrachichthys sp. (90.0%). Multidimensional scaling indicated that bycatch assemblages were more affected by latitude and depth than codend type. Based on the results, we recommend that the 47.6 mm square mesh codend be made mandatory in the deepwater eastern king prawn fishery as a highly effective BRD.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-123
    Number of pages11
    JournalFisheries Research
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

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