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.
Adey, J. M., Smith, I. P., Atkinson, R. J. A., Tuck, I. D., & Taylor, A. C. (2008). ‘Ghost fishing’ of target and non-target species by Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus creels. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 366, 119-127. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07520