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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 118:139-148 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps118139

Estimating the efficiency of a small beam trawl for sampling tiger prawns Penaeus esculentus and P. semisulcatus in seagrass by removal experiments

Loneragan, N. R., Wang, Y.-G., Kenyon, R. A., Staples, D. J., Vance, D. J., Heales, D. S.

The efficiency with which a small beam trawl (1 x 0.5 m mouth) sampled postlarvae and juveniles of tiger prawns Penaeus esculentus and P. semisulcatus at night was estimated in 3 tropical seagrass communities (dominated by Thalassia hemprichii, Syringodium isoetifolium and Enhalus acoroides, respectively) in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. An area of seagrass (40 x 3 m) was enclosed by a net and the beam trawl was repeatedly hand-hauled over the substrate. Net efficiency (q) was calculated using 4 methods: the unweighted Leslie, weighted Leslie, DeLury and Maximum-likelihood (ML) methods. The Maximum-likelihood is the preferred method for estimating efficiency because it makes the fewest assumptions and is not affected by zero catches. The major difference in net efficiencies was between postlarvae (mean ML q +/- 95% confidence limits = 0.66 +/- 0.16) and juveniles of both species (mean q for juveniles in water <=1.0 m deep = 0.47 +/- 0.05), i.e. the beam trawl was more efficient at capturing postlarvae than juveniles. There was little difference in net efficiency for P. esculentus between seagrass types (T. hemprichii versus S. isoetifolium), even though the biomass and morphologies of seagrass in these communities differed greatly (biomasses were 54 and 204 g m-2, respectively). The efficiency of the net appeared to be the same for juveniles of the 2 species in shallow water, but was lower for juvenile P. semisulcatus at high tide when the water was deeper (1.6 to 1.9 m) (0.35 +/- 0.08). The lower efficiency near the time of high tide is possibly because the prawns are more active at high than low tide, and can also escape above the net. Factors affecting net efficiency and alternative methods of estimating net efficiency are discussed.

Net efficiency . Beam trawls . Tiger prawns . Seagrass

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