The commercial fishery in California for Pacific hagfish, (Eptatretus stoutii) is entirely for export. In this fishery, all hagfish caught regardless of size, unless culled at sea, are landed and exported. Korean importers consider smaller hagfish undesirable, thus the fate of landed smaller, hagfish is unknown. In a fishery-independent study using a collaborating commercial fisherman and his vessel, we determined the average length, length frequency distribution, length to weight ratio, and length at first maturity of captured hagfish relative to bucket trap hole diameter by using bucket traps and the range of hole diameters used by the fishery. We also recorded bycatch. Based on length-at-maturity data from this study, and Melvin and Osborn’s (1992) findings, we will then possess better information to ensure this fishery is managed sustainably.
Investigation into the optimal bucket trap hole diameter to reduce capture of immature hagfish