Assessment of modified gillnets as a means to reduce bycatch in southeastern North Carolina coastal waters

Thorpe, T., Pabst, D.A., Beresoff, D.
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North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, Fishery Resource Grant Program
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Gillnets with three difference mesh sizes (2 7/8", 3" and 4") were modified to use 200 lbs/200 yard lead line and 11 oz buoyancy floats (versus 50lbs/200 yard lead line and 3 oz floats) to increase the tension in the net. Catch rates of Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead sharks were significantly lower in the 4" modified net. The proportion of hammer-wrapped bonnethead sharks was significantly higher in the 4" unmodified net and significantly less blacktip sharks were wrapped in the 3" modified net. Selectivity of blacknose sharks varied between the modified and unmodified nets. Catch rates of targeted Spanish mackerel and spot were not significantly different between modified and unmodified nets.