Research documents damage from trawl and dredge fishing

By on May 27, 2014

Cod end of the trawling net just before discharging fish on deck during stock assessment surveys. (Credit: Robert Pawlowski/NOAA Corps)

New research indicates that mobile fishing gear that drag along the ocean’s bottom are more destructive to ground fish habitats and geological formations, according to a release from Northeastern University.

Published in Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, the research states that trawls and dredges have a greater negative impact on New England’s bottom-dwelling fish, such as cod, haddock and cusk, than stationary traps or gill nets. The mobile gear can also damage fragile cobble and boulders, geological features that provide habitat to aquatic organisms and take thousands of years to form.

Damage to New England’s fisheries is a growing problem, as the region’s cod fishing industry continues its three-decade decline. If recovery fails to occur, the New England economy could suffer a $200 million loss.

Image: Cod end of the trawling net just before discharging fish on deck during stock assessment surveys. (Credit: Robert Pawlowski/NOAA Corps)

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