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Keywords:

  • North-east Atlantic;
  • commercial exploitation;
  • surveys;
  • by-catch

Comparative bottom trawl and longline surveys were carried out on two chartered commercial fishing vessels in the deep waters (350-1300 m) of the Rockall Trough, an area subjected to heavy commercial exploitation. The species composition, catch rates and length distributions from each survey were very different and reflected the fundamental difference in the two types of fishing operations. Bottom-trawled catches produced greater species diversity and higher discard rates. Longline catches produced larger specimens of teleost fish and were dominated by squalid shark. Trawl discards, expressed as kgs of discards per tonne of roundnose grenadier Coryphaenoides rupestris landed, were calculated for a broad range of the most abundant species taken in the catch. First estimates of total international discarding from deep-water trawling operations in the Rockall Trough area (7530 tonnes; 26.5 million individuals) were made by raising the discard rates using international grenadier landings for 1995. The outlook for the continued exploitation of the deep-water fish resource in the Rockall Trough and possible management options are discussed.