Benthic Habitats and the Effects of Fishing

Symposium Abstract: Spatial Distribution of Fishing Activity for Principal Commercial Fishing Gears Used in the Northeast Region of the United States, 1995-2000

D. K. Stevenson

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569605.ch128

Numbers of fishing trips, days-at-sea, and fishing days made by federal commercial fishing vessel permit holders were compiled from logbook data and assigned to 10 minute ‘squares’ of latitude and longitude to show spatial distribution patterns for 18 individual gear types and 3 major gear categories in the northeast United States (North Carolina – Maine) during 1995-2000. Principal gear types included in the analysis were otter trawls (fish), lobster pots, handlines, otter trawls (shrimp), hydraulic clam dredges, scallop dredges, quahog dredges, sink gill nets, and bottom longlines. GIS plots of days-at-sea (otter trawls and scallop dredges) and fishing time (clam dredges) accounted for geographical variations in trip duration and thus provided unbiased distributions of fishing effort for mobile bottom gear types. The distributions of scallop dredge days-at-sea in 1998 and 1999 closely resembled plots of fishing activity that were derived on a much finer time and spatial scale from vessel tracking system signal data (McSherry and Rago 2001). Overlays of ten minute squares that accounted for 90% of all days-at-sea or fishing time on bottom sediment data for the northeast U.S. continental shelf showed that most scallop dredging takes place on sand and gravel bottom, clam dredging in sand, and otter trawling on a variety of bottom types.