The impact of improving fishing gear technology on the fisheries resources

Johnson, Brian (2006) The impact of improving fishing gear technology on the fisheries resources. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Since man first caught a fish he has strived to catch them more efficiently and in greater quantities with less effort. The way the fishery is prosecuted in Newfoundland and Labrador has been evolving for over 500 years, but the most sweeping changes have occurred during the past 100 years. Theses changes, or "improvements", can be divided into three (3) areas: 1) fishing gear technology, 2) vessel design, and 3) electronic aids. This paper examines the effects of improving fishing gear technology with emphasis on the negative and positive effects these changes have had on the abundance of fish stocks harvested in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region. -- The primary species harvested in the Newfoundland and Labrador region at the tum of the century was Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Fishing gears used within the Region prior to the twentieth century were passive (e.g. traps and longlines) and depended primarily upon the voluntary movement of cod during their seasonal migrations from the offshore spawning grounds to inshore feeding grounds where they were harvested. Seasonal distribution in inshore waters also largely limited the fishing season to a few months during the summer and autumn, and during the winter for overwintering bay stocks. The range of operation for the fishermen was also limited to the distance they could travel using oars and sails in their small vessels. The use of passive fishing gear persisted in coastal waters, however, harvesting in offshore areas was predominantly conducted using mobile fishing gear. The fishing gear of today is mobile, as are the fishermen, in their larger, diesel powered vessels with electronic equipment for identifying and tracking the movements of fish. Improvements in technology have provided fishermen with the means of finding and fishing in virtually all areas, both inshore and offshore, in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region year round. -- The abundance of virtually all species of fish has declined in the Region during the past 100 years as the fishing gear has improved and new technologies have been introduced to the fishery. Improvements in technology make it possible to capture so many fish that it is now possible to drive many of the fish stocks in the ocean to commercial, and possibly even, biological extinction. -- This paper examines the interaction between improved fishing gear technology and the decline of many groundfish fish stocks harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador Region during the past 100 years, both before and after the collapse of these stocks. The emphasis is on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). I review the history of the fishery in the Region, examine the changes in fishing gear technologies, evaluate the changes, detail the status of the Northern cod stocks, and draw my conclusions from the information presented in the paper. The evidence to support my conclusions is largely circumstantial; however, I believe that it is sufficient to reach the conclusion that the improvements in fishing gear technology contributed substantially to the decline in the groundfish fisheries in the Region.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 10747
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 56-61.
Department(s): Marine Institute
Date: 2006
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Atlantic cod--Conservation--Newfoundland and Labrador; Fisheries--Newfoundland and Labrador--Equipment and supplies.

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