Catch and Bycatch in U.S. Southeast Gillnet Fisheries, 2015
Alyssa N. (Alyssa Napier), Mathers, Bethany M. Deacy, John K. Carlson
The Southeast Gillnet Observer Program has adapted to the changes of the Florida-Georgia shark gillnet fishery since the program began in 1993 (e.g. Carlson and Bethea 2007 and references therein, Mathers et al. 2015). There are currently about 500 total directed and incidental shark permits issued for the southeastern U.S. Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico, while the number of gillnet fishers changes from year to year.
Gillnet effort targeting large coastal and small coastal sharks, has declined in recent years as a result of Amendments 2 and 3 to the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan . Fishers have consequently increased effort targeting finfish, including Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus maculatus, king mackerel Scomberomorus cavalla, and bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix, with varying types of gillnet gear. However, a small amount of shark targeted gillnet effort continues to be observed.
The Southeast Gillnet Observer Program, in its continuing efforts to adapt to the fishery, currently covers anchored (sink and stab), strike, or drift gillnet fishing regardless of target by vessels that fish from Florida to North Carolina and the Gulf of Mexico year-round. Herein, we summarize fishing effort and catch and bycatch in these fisheries during January 2015 - December 2015, collectively referred to as 2015.