-Metal-framed traps covered with polyethylene mesh used in the fishery for the South African Cape rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) incidentally capture large numbers of undersize (<75 mm CL) specimens. Air-exposure, handling, and release procedures affect captured rock lobsters and reduce the productivity of the stock, which is heavily fished. Optimally, traps should retain legal size rock lobsters and allow sublegal animals to escape before traps are hauled. Escapement, based on lobster morphometric measurements, through meshes of 62 mm, 75 mm, and 100 mm was investigated theoretically under controlled conditions in an aquarium, and during field trials. SELECT models were used to model escapement, wherever appropriate. Size -selectivity curves based on the logistic model fitted the aquarium and field data better than asymmetrical Richards curves. The lobster length at 50% retention (L-50) on the escapement curve for 100-mm mesh in the aquarium (75.5 mm CL) approximated the minimum legal size (75 mm CL); however estimates of L50 increased to 77.4 mm in field trials where trapentrances were sealed, and to 82.2 mm where trap-entrances were open. Therfore, rock lobsters that cannot escape through the mesh of sealed field traps do so through the trap entrance of open traps. By contrast, the wider selection range and lower L-25 of field, compared to aquarium, trials (SR=8.2 mm vs. 2.6 mm; L-25= 73.4 min vs. 74.1 mm), indicate that small lobsters that should be able to escape from 100-mm mesh traps do not always do so. Escapement from 62-mm mesh traps with open entrance funnels increased by 40-60% over sealed traps. The findings of this study with a known size distribution, are related to those of a recent indirect (comparative) study for the same species, and implications for trap surveys, commercial catch rates, and ghost fishing are discussed.
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - Jan 2005|