The low impact of fish traps on the seabed makes it an eco-friendly fishing technique
Besides understanding the effects of fishing on harvested fish stocks, effects on non-target species, habitats and seafloor integrity also need to be considered. Static fishing gears have often been mentioned as a lower impact fishing alternative to towed gears, although studies examining their actual impact on the seafloor are scarce. In this study, we aimed to describe fish trap movements on the seafloor related to soaking time and trap retrieval. Impacts on the seafloor of lightweight rectangular traps and heavier circular traps were compared. We used 3D video cameras to estimate sweeping motion on the seabed and penetration into the sediment during soaking time. The area and distance swept by each type of trap during retrieval was determined by a camera set up facing the sea bottom. The potential rotation of the traps around the mainline was assessed using an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. Results showed that no penetration and almost no movements could be detected during soaking time for either lightweight or heavy commercial traps, even for high tidal coefficient (maximum 6 cm). No rotation could be observed when the tide turned. The swept area covered by a trap during retrieval was low (maximum 2.04 m2) compared to towed fishing gear and other static gear.