Use of artificial illumination to reduce Pacific halibut bycatch in a U.S. West Coast groundfish Bottom trawl
AuthorLomeli, Mark J. M.; Wakefield, W. Waldo; Herrmann, Bent; Dykstra, Claude L.; Simeon, Anna; Rudy, Dana M.; Planas, Josep V.
In the U.S. West Coast groundfish bottom trawl fishery, Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) bycatch can impact some fishers’ ability to fully utilize their quota shares of groundfishes. In this study, we compared the catch efficiency for Pacific halibut and four commercially important groundfish species between an illuminated and non-illuminated trawl. The illuminated trawl caught significantly fewer Pacific halibut and sablefish than the non-illuminated trawl. For Dover sole (Microstomus pacificus), petrale sole (Eopsetta jordani), and lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), the illuminated trawl caught fewer individuals than the non-illuminated trawl. However, this catch difference was not statistically significant. Physiological data collected on Pacific halibut caught in illuminated and non-illuminated trawls show blood levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, were significantly higher in fish caught in the illuminated trawl than in the non-illuminated trawl in the absence of differences in condition factor or fat content. While our results have obvious implications for the West Coast groundfish bottom trawl fishery, our findings could also have potential applications in Alaska and British Columbia, Canada trawl fisheries where Pacific halibut bycatch occurs.