Effects of otter boards on catches of an Australian penaeid trawl



Publication Details

Broadhurst, M. K., Sterling, D. J. & Cullis, B. R. (2012). Effects of otter boards on catches of an Australian penaeid trawl. Fisheries Research, 131-133 (N/A), 67-75.


The effects of otter boards on the catches of Metapenaeus macleayi were quantified within the broad aim of promoting more hydrodynamic and environmentally benign trawl-spreading mechanisms. Two identical trawls (7.26 m footropes) were attached to 2.89-m sweeps and simultaneously fished in a double-rig; each alternately attached to either two otter boards or a rigid 6.0-m beam with parallel sleds (configured not to impact on the behaviour of M. macleayi). Both trawl configurations had the same total weight (143 kg) and initial wing-end spreads (predicted means of 4.33 and 4.45 m), although the otter boards caused significantly more variable wing-end spread during towing. Replacing the otter boards with the beam significantly reduced system drag (by 10%) and the weights and numbers of school prawns per hectare swept by the footropes (by 33%); with the latter attributed to the concomitant reduction in lateral bottom contact of the system. Standardised catches of the most abundant teleost Herklotsichthys castelnaui were also significantly lower (by 79%) in the beam trawl. The results support the potential for compensatory adjustments to penaeid-trawl parameters (e.g. footrope length) to offset reductions in the bottom contact of spreading mechanisms that are modified to minimise drag and/or habitat impacts.

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