Spatio-temporal bycatch analysis of the Atlantic halibut longline fishery survey indicate hotspots for species of conservation concern

The Atlantic halibut longline fishery is the second most valuable groundfish fishery in Atlantic Canada and received Marine Stewardship Council certification in 2013. Analysis of annual survey data across the Scotian Shelf and Southern Grand Banks from 1998-2016 revealed that 70% of the total catch by weight and 85% by number of individuals were bycatch, with over 100 identified species of finfish, sharks, skates, benthic invertebrates, marine mammals and seabirds. This included 4 species listed under the Species at Risk Act and another 14 species awaiting a listing decision based on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Our results identify temporal trends in threatened species and hotspot by bycatch areas which can inform recovery strategies, bycatch levels and spatial zoning in fisheries management and marine conservation.

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