Shrimp trawl bycatch in the Galveston Bay System
Nance, James, Eduardo Martinez, Dennis Emiliani, Jeffrey Davis, Lon Rathmell and Zoula Zein-Eldin
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Commercial harvesting of shrimp from the Galveston Bay system is an important economic asset to the State of Texas. Annual harvest from Galveston Bay averages 3.5 million pounds and approximately $6.5 million. However, shrimp harvesting also may impact finfish and other invertebrates that may be of commercial, recreational, or ecological value by generating bycatch, the unwanted or non-targeted portion of a shrimp trawler's efforts. Since the bay supports extensive commercial and bait shrimp industries, an analysis of the bycatch from the shrimp fishery is extremely important to the Galveston Bay characterization program. Bycatch species are usually discarded after shrimp (Penaeus spp.) and edible or bait fishes are removed. Of particular interest are recreational species populations such as red drum (Sciaenops ocellata) and spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) which the State of Texas (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department) augments through stocking programs. Very little information is available regarding bycatch of either the bait shrimp fishery (which operates throughout the year) or the bay commercial fishery (which has two main seasons).