Cod-end selectivity for sole (Solea solea) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) in North Sea pulse-trawl fisheries: Best Practices II - WP4 selectivity

Pieke Molenaar, Chun Chen

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional


Electrified pulse trawls have replaced traditional tickler chain beam trawls in the North Sea fisheries for sole. This study investigates the mesh selection in pulse trawling of conventional cod-ends (80 mm cod-end mesh) used in the current pulse trawl fishery, and the effects of increasing the cod-end mesh size to 90 mm on catches of sole (Solea solea) and undersized plaice (Pleuronectes platessa). Cod-end selectivity was estimated for 79-80 mm and 87-88 mm cod-ends during two experiments on a commercial pulse trawler using a cover cod-end. The results show that with a mesh size of 79-80 mm the length where 50% of the individuals are retained (L50) for sole is 19 cm with a selection range (SR) of 4.9 cm. Given the observed length distribution of sole on the fishing ground this results in a 10% loss of marketable sole catches in the 24-27 cm length range. Increasing the mesh size in experiment one to 87 mm resulted in a L50 for sole of 22 cm with SR = 4.9 cm and in experiment 2 to a L50 of 26 cm and SR = 4.9 cm was found for 88 mm cod-end, resulting in a loss of marketable sole of 24% and 38% in experiment 1 and 2, respectively. These losses were detected in the 24-33 cm length range. Compared to sole, plaice showed steeper selection curve with a L50 of 14.4 cm (SR 2.5) and 14.1 cm (SR 2.1) for the 79-80 mm cod-ends in experiment 1 and 2, respectively. In the 87 mm cod-ends, this L50 shifted to 15.6 cm (SR 2.5) for experiment 1 and 18.7 cm (SR 2.1) for the second experiment. The ratio of plaice discards per kg marketable sole caught was 0.4 in experiment one for 80 mm cod-ends, and increased to 0.5 in a 87 mm cod-end. In the second experiment this was 2.3 for 79 mm and 2.5 for 87 mm. Increasing the minimum cod-end mesh to 90 mm thus increases the discard quantities of undersized plaice when the sole total allowable catch (TAC) is fully exploited.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Helder
PublisherWageningen Marine Research
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Publication series

NameWageningen Marine Research report

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