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Catch Control in the Blue Whiting Pelagic Trawl Fishery (Cruise report no 13 - english version)


In 2017, the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (Fiskeri- og havbruksnæringens forskningsfinansiering; FHF) received input from blue whiting fishermen recommending that research should be conducted to investigate challenges regarding catch control and health and safety in the blue whiting fishery. The Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Directorate of Fisheries (FDir) and FHF contributed to a feasibility study, with the aim of investigating the likely causes of bursting and sinking codends in the blue whiting fishery in the north-east Atlantic. This preliminary study revealed 3 main challenges:

A danger of bursting and sinking trawl codends bags at the surface, following explosive decompression of the captured blue whiting (and their swimming bladder gases) due to a rapid ascent from fishing depths of >400m.

  1. The wastage of large quantities (often hundreds of tonnes) of fish in the event of a bursting codend,
  2. The risk to the safety of the vessel and crew in the event of a bursting codend following an explosive ascent or during the retrieval of a sinking codend.
  3. The need to regulate catch volumes more effectively; specifically limiting catch sizes to manageable quantities that remain within individual vessel capacity and quota limits.

The preliminary results were used as a justification for a project to specifically address these challenges, Catch Control in the Blue Whiting Fishery [Fangstkontroll i fisket etter kolmule, FHF-prosjekt nr 901542], which commenced in 2019. The project's goal is to find methods that reduce the risk of bursting and sinking codends in the blue whiting fishery, as well as regulate the catch based on the remaining load capacity of the vessel.