Predictive framework for codend size selection of brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) in the North Sea beam-trawl fishery
The brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) fishery is of great socio-economic importance to coastal communities on the North Sea. The fishery is exploited by beam trawlers often using codends with very small mesh sizes, leading to concerns about catch rates of undersized shrimp. However, little information is available on codend size selection, making it difficult to provide scientifically based advice on alternative codend designs. Therefore, this study establishes a predictive framework for codend size selection of brown shrimp, based on a large selectivity dataset from 33 different codend designs tested during four experimental fishing cruises, during which more than 350,000 brown shrimp were length measured. Predictions by the framework confirm concerns about the exploitation pattern in the fishery, because the retention probability of undersized shrimp reaches 95% with the currently applied designs. The framework predictions allow the exploration of obtainable exploitation patterns depending on codend design. For example, increasing codend mesh size to 25±29 mm would reduce the retention rate of undersized shrimp to a maximum of 50%, depending on codend mesh type.