Relative benthic disturbances of conventional and novel otter boards

  • Published source details McHugh M.J., Broadhurst M.K., Sterling D.J., Millar R.B., Skilleter G. & Kennelly S.J. (2015) Relative benthic disturbances of conventional and novel otter boards. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72, 2450-2456.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Modify the design or configuration of trawl doors

Action Link
Marine Fish Conservation
  1. Modify the design or configuration of trawl doors

    A replicated, controlled study in 2014 in lagoon waters in Lake Wooloweyah, New South Wales, Australia (McHugh et al. 2015) found that using an alternative “batwing” trawl door design reduced the number of one of five unwanted fish species caught, but not the overall amount of unwanted fish caught, compared to a conventional door type. Compared to the conventional door design, the batwing design reduced the number of bridled gobies Arenigobius bifrenatus caught/500 m by 25%, but catches of unwanted southern herring Herklotsichthys castelnaui, pink-breasted siphonfish Siphamia roseigaster and Australian anchovy Engraulis australis were similar (data reported as statistical model results). Whitebait Hyperlophus vittatus catch increased by 91%. The total unwanted fish catch was similar between batwing and conventional designs (data reported as statistical model results). In addition, catch weight/500 m of the commercial target school prawns Metapenaeus macleayi was reduced by 72%. During the Australian autumn in 2014, two pairs of otter boards (batwing and conventional) were deployed one at a time on a 6 m beam trawl from a 10 m trawler in 1-2 m of water. Batwing boards had a main sled at 0° angle of attack and a sail offset by 20° attached to a boom and mast, with an area of 0.74 m2. The conventional design was flat-rectangular otter boards with an area of 0.77 m2 and a 35° angle of attack (see original paper for gear specifications). Thirty-six replicate trawls were completed using each pair of boards.

    (Summarised by: Leo Clarke)

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