, Volume 602, Issue 1, pp 87-98

Impact of glass eel fishery on by-catch fish species: a quantitative assessment

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Abstract

The present study evaluated the effect of the glass eel fishery on by-catch ichthyofauna in the Ebro River delta by investigating the primary responsible factors of discard mortality, in order to assess the adequacy of fishing and sorting procedures, and assess the ecological impact of this traditional activity. Results revealed that glass eel fishery had a negative impact on by-catch ichthyofauna mainly composed of mugilid fry and small-size estuarine species. Data showed that between 10 and 69% of incidental species died as a consequence of glass eel capture and sorting procedures. Differences in by-catch fish mortality rates depended on the glass eel sorting time, the total weight of catch, the discard ratio, by-catch fish size, and by-catch fish species composition. The total weight of the catch and the discard ratio were two of the main parameters affecting discarded fish mortality, since both had a direct effect on the period of time required for glass eel sorting during which by-catch fish were exposed to air and suffered from very aggressive sorting procedures that caused severe external and internal injuries. By-catch fish measuring less than 40 mm L T were more susceptible to glass eel fishery procedures than those larger (>60 mm L T), independent of the species considered or their stage of development. This fishery, similar to other ones, should strive to minimization the amount of discards and the mortality of discarded fish, by improving the selectivity of the fish trap and developing new sorting and selection procedures.

E. Gisbert and M. A. López have contributed equally to this study.
Guest editors: S. Dufour, E. Prévost, E. Rochard & P. Williot
Fish and diadromy in Europe (ecology, management, conservation)