Study to Improve Trawl Gear Selectivity in Malta

MEP were contracted by the Maltese Government to complete scientific research into improving the trawl gear selectivity of the 40 mm square-mesh size, currently in use by the Maltese demersal trawling fleet, so as to reduce discards of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) and deep-water rose shrimp (Parapenaeus longirostris), while retaining legally sized catch.

The project developed four different methods, two relied on the codend mesh size and its configuration, the other two assessed the implementation of side escape panels (SEPs) in the trawl body to promote fish escapement, before entering the codend.

Conclusions from the study showed that, potentially in Maltese trawl fisheries, the new 4-face demersal trawl with the SMC40 codend and SEP50 into the lateral sides of the trawl belly, could meet all the requirements for the replacement of the traditional commercial 2-face bottom trawl. The experimental gear with the SMC40 & SEP50 exhibited good catch efficiency and selectivity, although this is species dependent.