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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Reducing bycatch in beam trawls and electrotrawls with (electrified) benthos release panels

Published source details

Soetaert M., Lenoir H. & Verschueren B. (2016) Reducing bycatch in beam trawls and electrotrawls with (electrified) benthos release panels. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil, 73, 2370-2379


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Fit one or more mesh escape panels/windows to trawl nets Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled study in 2001 in seabed areas in the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia (Soetaert et al. 2016) found that nets fitted with either one of two escape zone designs (“bycatch reduction device”) did not reduce the numbers of large sponges caught or weight of small unwanted catch (invertebrates and fish combined), compared to unmodified nets. Data were not provided. Nets fitted with a ‘Bigeye’ escape zone reduced the catch of commercially targeted prawns by 4.2% compared to an unmodified net, while nets fitted with a square-mesh escape panel caught similar amounts. The use of a “bycatch reduction device” has been compulsory since 2000 in the Australian prawn fishery (as well as the use of a “turtle excluder device”). Commercial vessels towed twin Florida Flyer prawn trawl nets from each side of the vessel in August–November 2001. Nets fitted with one of the two designs of escape zone (112 nets examined for small bycatch, 97 for sponges) and an unmodified net (703 for small bycatch, 339 for sponges) were randomly assigned to either side of the vessel. Total weights of small unwanted catch (<300 mm), commercially targeted prawns, and counts of sponges (>300 mm) were recorded. The “Bigeye” design was later removed from the Australian list of approved designs.

(Summarised by Anaëlle Lemasson & Laura Pettit)