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Measures of hydraulic dredge efficiency and razor clam production, two aspects governing sustainability within the Scottish commercial fishery
Hauton, C.; Howell, T.R.W.; Atkinson, R.J.A.; Moore, P.G. (2007). Measures of hydraulic dredge efficiency and razor clam production, two aspects governing sustainability within the Scottish commercial fishery. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 87(4): 869-877.
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Hauton, C.
  • Howell, T.R.W.
  • Atkinson, R.J.A.
  • Moore, P.G.

    A study was made of the efficiency of a commercially available hydraulic dredge design in use on the west coast of Scotland and of the annual biomass production of two different razor clam (Ensis spp.) beds within the Clyde Sea area. These two parameters, viz fishing efficiency and population annual production, are fundamentally important to any proper attempt to assess the long term sustainability of a fishery. The hydraulic dredge used in this study was found to have an absolute efficiency of 90.1% when expressed in terms of the collected wet weight biomass, representing the first time that the efficiency of a hydraulic dredge of this nature has been measured rather than simply inferred from track width. This indicates that this dredge design has the potential to remove the majority of a clam population, including undersized immature individuals, within a 45 cm swath in a single tow. Annual production estimates were also made for two separate razor clam beds. One population of Ensis siliqua was located in Irvine Bay and the other two populations (one E. siliqua and one E. arcuatus) occurred in a mixed bed on Hunterston Sands. Each location was sampled quantitatively on a regular basis using the same hydraulic dredge. Dredged areas were measured by SCUBA divers so that the population densities could be calculated for each sampling event. Size-classes within each population were identified from siphonal shell breadth measurements and production estimates were calculated using a size-cohort analysis procedure designed for stocks exhibiting recruitment but that do not have separable age-classes. Production of all three populations was low during the study (1.82-18.08 g AFDW 10 m-2) as were the production/biomass estimates (0.01-0.11). These data indicate that populations of Ensis spp. on the west coast of Scotland are slow-growing and typical of K-selected species. These data highlight the conflicting pressures facing any razor clam fishery: the design of extremely efficient hydraulic gear and the slow-growth of the target species. It is clear that the future commercial exploitation of these species will need very careful management to ensure sustainability and avoid fishery over-depletion.

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