Alternate Title

The Distribution of Purse-Seine Sets and Catches in the Gulf Menhaden Fishery in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, 1994-98


Captains Daily Fishing Reports (CDFRs) are daily logs of fishing activities that are completed by vessel captains in the gulf menhaden purse-seine fishery. CDFRs of menhaden vessels from Mississippi and Louisiana for 1994-98 were computerized and analyzed. Over the 5-yr study period, 33,780 CDFRs were processed, representing 115,104 purse-seine sets. On average, the fleet made 23,021 sets per year. Airplane pilots assisted for 64.0-75.8% of the sets. Modal number of sets per day ranged from 4 to 5, and median catch per set ranged from 17 to 22 metric tons. Vessels made at least one set on 63-76% of the available fishing days. Vessels failed to leave the dock most often because of adverse weather. Between 86 and 92% of the annual catch occurred off the Louisiana coast, with lesser quantities coming from the Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama waters. Cumulatively, 55% of the harvest occurred within three miles of shore, and 93% came from within 10 miles of shore. Two main centers of fishing activity were located off the Louisiana coast: one, within Breton and Chandeleur sounds and the other along the western Louisiana coast from Atchafalaya Bay to Sabine Pass. Annual catch by 10 X 10-min rectangles of latitude and longitude within these centers of fishing activity regularly exceeded 20,000 metric tons. Areas of the greatest catches and effort tended to cluster near extant menhaden factories. Catch per unit effort was generally high across the range of the gulf menhaden fishery, and exceeded 20 metric tons per purse-seine set in a majority of the areas.