MEPS 366:119-127 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07520

‘Ghost fishing’ of target and non-target species by Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus creels

J. M. Adey1,2, I. P. Smith2,*, R. J. A. Atkinson2, I. D. Tuck3,4, A. C. Taylor1

1Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
2University Marine Biological Station, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae KA28 0EG, UK
3Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory, PO Box 101, 375 Victoria Road, Aberdeen AB11 9DB, UK
4Present address: National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research, Private Bag 109695, 269 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
*‑Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The environmental impact of ‘ghost fishing’ has been identified as a major issue in the capture fishing industry. The present study assesses the potential for ghost fishing in the creel (baited trap) fishery for Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus, one of the most valuable fished species in European waters. Baited creels were deployed and monitored at a shallow and a deep site for 363 and 217 d, respectively. Catch was counted at regular intervals by SCUBA diving at the shallow site and by periodically hauling creels at the deepwater site. Both trials showed that most captured species were able to escape from the creels, with only N. norvegicus being trapped for long periods of time, suggesting that creels are very selective for the target species. Dead target or non-target species within creels appeared to be ineffective at attracting additional N. norvegicus into the creels. It was concluded that, following the initial attraction to creels, once all the bait has been consumed, lost creels will cease to fish. The main reasons for the low ghost fishing performance of N. norvegicus creels may be the design of the creel itself (which allows non-target species to escape relatively easily), the behaviour of N. norvegicus restricting the number of animals entering the creels once the bait has been consumed, and the ability of N. norvegicus to survive for long periods of time once caught.


KEY WORDS: Lost fishing gear · Ghost fishing · Baited traps · Environmental impact · Gear selectivity · Bycatch · Non-target species


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Cite this article as: Adey JM, Smith IP, Atkinson RJA, Tuck ID, Taylor AC (2008) ‘Ghost fishing’ of target and non-target species by Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus creels. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 366:119-127. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07520

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