Investigating the selectivity and Efficiency of Different Conical Traps in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow Crab (Chionectes opilio) Fishery
Snow crab is a vital sea product in Newfoundland and Labrador, and maintenance of healthy snow crab populations is essential for a successful long-term fishery. One challenge identified in the snow crab fishery is bycatch of undersized male crab. To approach this challenge, CSAR developed and tested three experimental crab pot designs, including escape mechanisms installed in traditional pots, a prototype wire-mesh crab pot, and an external smooth collar for mesh crab pots. This gear was tested both in a commercial environment in Conception Bay from AV Island Voyager and Memorial University's MV Mares, and observed underwater in Bonne Bay using several video camera systems.
The escape mechanisms proved most successful in this experiment for reducing bycatch of undersized male crab. Wire mesh traps showed promise for future commercial use, though female crab bycatch was more noticeable in wire traps than in mesh traps. The external smooth collar was the least successful of the three modifications.
Several commercial crab vessels have been testing the escape mechanisms in their pots under full commercial trials since 2005. The results of these trials are assessed annually and presented during the DFO Shellfish Regional Advisory Process (RAP).