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Comparison of beam trawl catch, by-catch and discard in fishing and non-fishing areas – a case study from the northern Adriatic Sea

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DARIA EZGETA -BALIĆ (http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0763-3647), NEDO VRGOČ (http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2683-1764), IGOR ISAJLOVIĆ, DAMIR MEDVEŠEK, ANTE VUJEVIĆ, MARIJA DESPALATOVIĆ, IVAN CVITKOVIĆ


Beam trawl fishery is highly important in the Croatian part of the northern Adriatic wherein 116 vessels have a licence for this type of fishing gear. A sharp decrease in the beam trawl catch observed since 2015 has raised concern about not only socio-economic issues but also ecological issues and the effect that beam trawl fisheries have had on exploited stocks. Besides the effect that beam trawl fisheries can have on targeted economically important species, intensive dredging can cause long-term changes in the benthic community. Therefore, this study aimed to detect the effect that this type of fishing gear has on target and by-catch species. Furthermore, survey data were compared with the official beam trawl fishery data gathered through Vessel Monitoring System data together with fishermen’s logbooks. Our research targeted two adjacent areas: an area where beam trawl fishing is allowed and an area where it is forbidden. The results demonstrate that the commercially important catch represented a minor share of the total beam trawl catch in both survey areas, while discard made up more than 93% of the total catch. The main beam trawl commercially important species in the Croatian part of the northern Adriatic Sea was Pecten jacobaeus, followed by Solea solea and Ostrea edulis. Our results suggest that beam trawl fisheries mostly affect target bivalve species and some non-commercial benthic species (e.g. sponges). The differences recorded between areas could suggest that beam trawl fisheries cause changes mostly in the P. jacobaeus population.


Mediterranean scallop; European flat oyster; common sole; VMS; logbooks; population structure; benthic organisms; fishing effort.

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