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First description of a new worm bait fishery in the NW Mediterranean Sea

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MARC BAETA, AROA NAVARRETE, MANUEL BALLESTEROS
MARC BAETA, AROA NAVARRETE, MANUEL BALLESTEROS

Abstract


Most commercial clam stocks in the NW Mediterranean Sea have collapsed over the last few decades and, as a result, most clam dredge fishermen have been forced to leave the fishing sector. Recently, in order to sustain their economic activity, some fishermen have modified dredges to target sea worms to sell as bait for recreational fisheries. This study provides the first information about this new worm bait fishery on the Catalan Maresme coast (NE Spain). The local administration has regulated only a few aspects of the fishery: users (2 boats), geographical limits (40 km; between 0-7 m depth), fishing time (6:00-14:00) and dredge design (the same as those used for smooth clams but with interior structures to retain worms and an open back). Fishing activity takes place throughout the year. Fishermen target three worm bait species: Sigalion squamosus, Ophelia neglecta and Halla parthenopeia. A mean of 233.37 individuals of S. squamosus, 167.93 of O. neglecta and 2.17 of H. parthenopeia are gathered per boat and day. Worm baits are sold directly to local recreational fishing shops as a quality product at the highest prices on the market. This fishery has a high social and economic value for the Maresme coast, helping to maintain small-scale fishermen jobs with an economic benefit similar to clam fishing.


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