Effects of pelagic longline hook size on species- and size-selectivity and survival
This paper has previously been published as a journal article: Gilman E, Chaloupka M, Musyl M (2017) Effects of pelagic longline hook size on species- and size-selectivity and survival. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 28:417–433. doi: 10.1007/s11160-017-9509-7
Pelagic fisheries can have profound effects on ecosystem structure and functioning, affecting ecosystem services, including fisheries production, and threaten vulnerable bycatch species. Controlling hook size could manage the species- and size-selectivity and survival of target and incidental catch. To test this hypothesis, we conducted experimental pelagic longline fishing in the western tropical Pacific testing a control hook and two hooks with wider minimum widths. Data such as catch, length and condition were fit to response-specific Bayesian geo-additive generalized additive and linear mixed regression models. Model fits were assessed using posterior predictive check tests. Catch rates of both retained and discarded species were significantly higher on medium hooks. Target tuna species were significantly larger and had significantly higher at-vessel survival rates on wider hooks. Significantly larger billfishes, also market species, were caught on narrowest hooks. These effects of hook width on length and survival, however, are a much smaller determinant of economic value of the catch than effects on catch rates. If input controls are limiting, then, relative to medium hooks, continued use of narrowest hooks would maintain current economic viability without causing a significant increase in discard catch levels, including of vulnerable sharks. If market species output controls are limiting, because the ratio of retained to discarded catch on medium hooks was greater than on narrowest hooks, medium hooks would generate lower discard levels. Further research assessing single-factor effects of longline hook width is needed to support robust meta-analyses that account for fishery-specific effects.