Fishing small pelagics, sardine and anchovy in the Kavala fleet fishing grounds in the Northern Aegean Sea with purse seine.


MINOUW partner & Lead scientist:

WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) , Marco Costantini

Fishing method and species:

Purse-seine (16mm mesh size). Species targeted are Sardine, Atlantic Chub Mackerel and Horse Mackerel.

Fishing small pelagics, sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus)in the Kavala fleet fishing grounds in the Northern Aegean Sea with purse seine. This comprises a “mother vessel”, a rowing boat, and up to five fish aggregation floating lights which are released to attract fish, once they are detected with the use of echosounders. The rowing boat moves from one floating light to another, aggregating all fish under one light in the end of the process. When this dense aggregation of fish is formed, the “mother vessel” encircles the fish with its net. Then, it winches in the purse line, closing the bottom of the seine and forming a bag-shaped grip that encloses the fish. Finally, the net is brought alongside the “mother vessel”, fish are brought on-board with the use of dip nets and are placed in basins of ice.

The main prohibitions in the operation of a purse seine are: i) those included in the EU Regulations (e.g., fishing at a distance less than 300 m from the shore line or within 50 metres isobath where that depth is reached at a shorter distance from the coast; Minimum Landing Sizes set by the EU Regulation 1967/2006); and ii) some restrictions at a national level such as the closure of the the sardine & anchovy fishery between 15 December and the end of February and prohibition of fishing two days before and after a full moon in national waters (6nm). The minimum mesh size for the night seine is 16 mm, the maximum length of the seine is 800 m and its maximum altitude is 120 m. Maximum exploitation rate is set at 0.4 for both stocks (fishing mortality not more than two thirds of natural mortality).

What activities did the MINOUW project carry out?
  • Update of discards rate based on recent data data collection & analysis
  • Identification of the underlying causes of such exemplary performance with a focus on:
  • Environmental factors (weather conditions, currents) literature review
  • Ecosystem factors (catch composition) literature review and data analysis
  • Fishing techniques used by the local fishermen monitoring & description of the fishing practices
  • Analysing fishermen’s perception of the landing obligation interviews, questionnaires & discussion.
What outcomes were expected?
  • Use of case study as a best practice
  • Exchange of know-how between fishermen operating in different areas
  • Demonstration of the fishing practices and replication in other parts of the European waters/world
  • Enhance fishermen’s involvement in the process of finding proactive solutions to mitigate the impact of the Landing Obligation in their activity
  • Encourage fishing practices and technologies that minimize fishing impact on ecosystems.

A comparison of fisheries discards in the North and the Central Aegean Sea fleets for the period 2003-2008 revealed great differences in discards ratio at the fishery level.
Researchers identified some differences in fishers' strategies and practices, which contribute to the lower discarding in the North Aegean Sea purse seine fishery. In particular, an update of the discards rate based on the most recent available data was performed, underlying causes of the low discards rate in North Aegean Sea with a focus on environmental factors, ecosystem factors and fishing techniques used by the local fishermen were identified, low-discards fishing practices were disseminated through the participation in a fishermen’s exchange program. In North Aegean Sea, the catch composition together with the environmental conditions and the fishing techniques used by the local fishermen lead to very low discards rates.

For a full summary of results download the PDF here: (634kb)