| Alaska Fisheries Science Center Quarterly Report : January, Febuary, March, 2003 - :19963 | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
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Alaska Fisheries Science Center Quarterly Report : January, Febuary, March, 2003
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    One of the most significant issues affecting marine fisheries management today is the mortality of fish that are discarded after cap­ture or that escape from fishing gear. Fish are released after capture (bycatch) because of harvest restrictions: number, size or sex lim­its, or incidental catch as nontarget species. Fish escape from gear a sa result of gear modi­fications causing unwanted fish to be ex­cluded or released prior to landing. Mortality rates of bycatch and escapees are generally unknown and constitute a large source of un­certainty in estimates of overall fishing mor­tality. Measurements of bycatch amounts and bycatch mortality rates for individual fisheries are necessary for improvements in present management schemes. Total dis­carded bycatch has been estimated to be ap­proximately one-quarter of the worldwide fisheries catch, while the amount of fish es­caping from fishing gear is unknown. Devel­opment of quantitative methods to measure discard and escapee mortality rates in the field requires fundamental knowledge of why fish die after being discarded or escaping and how to measure this endpoint under a wide range of realistic fishing conditions. This arti­cle summarizes systematic bycatch research over the past 10 years performed in the labo­ratory of the Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Group of the Alaska Fisheries Science Cen­ter’s Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering (RACE) Division.

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