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A profile of the hook and line fishery for California halibut in Monterey Bay, California : learning from fishermen through collaborative research
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  • Description:
    Many commercially-targeted fish species can be caught with different types of fishing gear, yet the choice of fishing gear can have major economic and ecological repercussions. California halibut (Paralicthys californicus) is a major commercial and recreational fish species in California and Mexico that can be commercially caught with bottom trawls, set gillnets, and various configurations of hook and line gear. Numerous studies have documented adverse impacts to seafloor habitats from the use of bottom trawls, including the 2002 National Research Council study which found that bottom trawling reduces the diversity, productivity, and complexity of marine habitats. To comply with Essential Fish Habitat provisions of the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Pacific Fishery Management Council closed over 135,000 square miles of federal waters to bottom trawling off the U.S. west coast in the 2006 Pacific Coast Groundfish EFH Final Rule. Also in 2006, halibut trawl grounds in Monterey Bay, California became closed to trawling as the result of 2004 state legislation (SB 1459), and there has been ongoing debate about whether to reopen certain areas. Meanwhile, the California Fish and Game Commission is required to 'facilitate conversion of bottom trawling to more sustainable gears.' However, while hook and line gear clearly has been shown in other studies to cause minimal impacts to seafloor habitats compared to trawling, little is known about the economic viability or the levels of incidental catch associated with hook and line fishing for California halibut...This preliminary study indicates that the hook and line fishery for California halibut in Monterey Bay is an economically viable commercial fishery that may have substantially less bycatch than what has been reported in other studies of bottom trawling for this species. This pilot study also indicates that collaborative research involving fishermen as participants and data gatherers provides significant opportunities to collect important, management-relevant data that may otherwise be cost-prohibitive.
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