Fishing gear substitution to reduce bycatch and habitat impacts: An example of social-ecological research to inform policy

Lekelia D. Jenkins, Karen Garrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study examined the feasibility of gear substitution as a means to reduce bycatch and habitat impacts of fisheries, using a social-ecological systems approach. The U.S. west coast sablefish fishery is an excellent subject for this study, because it permits three different gear types and has a problem with bycatch of overfished species. Bycatch rates were highest in trawls and lowest in pots. Combining interview data with findings from a previous study, affirmed that habitat impacts were highest with trawls and lowest with longlines. Interviews with 44 individuals analyzed using grounded theory yielded several common themes in the opinions of gear substitution. Positive opinion themes included that it would allow better management of the fish populations by reducing bycatch and would allow more business options, flexibility, and increased profit for some trawlers. The main negative opinion theme was that gear substitution could decrease landings needed to support shoreside infrastructure. Most stakeholder groups saw some benefit in gear substitution. Notably, the trawlers voiced a unanimous preference for converting to pots rather than longlines. A scenario analysis revealed that the preferable management option would be long-term gear conversion, but incentives are likely to be an important means of encouraging gear conversion. This ecological impacts rapid assessment provided a regional evaluation of bycatch and habitat impacts that had never been conducted before for these gear types. It also provided scientific support for a regulatory change that legally allows trawlers to practice gear substitution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-303
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Policy
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bycatch
  • Fishing gear conversion
  • Fishing gear substitution
  • Fishing gear switching
  • Habitat impacts
  • Social-ecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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