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Trawling: Historic Development, Current Status and Future Challenges

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Otter trawling was developed in the late 1800s and is one of the most widely used fish capture methods today. While cod-end mesh size regulations have aimed at controlling the size of fish caught, many trawl fisheries suffer from discarding of small and unwanted species, including marine mammals and turtles. Developments aimed at improving size and species selectivity have been introduced and have reduced discarding considerably. However, in some fisheries such solutions have failed to be adequately implemented and require the use of management incentives to mitigate discard problems. More recently concerns relating to environmental impact of trawls have increased and analogies comparing trawling to forest clear-cutting are found in peer-reviewed literature. Scientific evidence to substantiate such dramatic comparisons is weak due to methodological inadequacies. Adopting a precautionary approach and responding to political pressure, research has begun to focus on reducing the physical impact of trawls on benthic communities. Alternative capture methods using static gears also have inherent problems and are unlikely to provide economically viable alternatives while maintaining current catch rates without further development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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