HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

David Kerstetter

Second Advisor

Amy C. Hirons, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Paul T. Arena, Ph.D.


The development and adaptation of gear technologies to local fisheries has been a management-oriented research strategy commonly used to mitigate the ecological effects of pelagic longline (PLL) gear on bycatch species. Grenada’s PLL fishery primarily targets yellowfin tuna, however while minimal, their bycatch of blue marlin and white marlin exceeds the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) allowed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). A switch to circle hooks may benefit these nontargeted, bycatch species by reducing catch rates and haulback mortality, as well as increasing post-release survival. To determine differences in performance, assessments of 16/0 circle hooks and 9/0 J hooks were alternated over 26 sets between January and June 2018. Catch, mortality, hook location, length and grade of fish were compared between hook types. No differences in haulback mortality rate for all species, or yellowfin tuna grade were found between hook types. However, significantly fewer billfish collectively (t= 2.36, p= 0.028), and sailfish specifically (t= 3.04, p=0.005), were caught on circle hooks. Additionally, tuna caught with circle hooks had a 69% greater chance of external hooking compared to J hooks (X2 = 4.38 p=0.036). All other species analyzed had statistically similar catch rates regardless of hook type (p < 0.05), including, yellowfin tuna. The results of this study indicate the Grenadian PLL can reduce its impact on billfish bycatch by using 16/0 circle hooks without incurring negative effects on their tuna catch rate or grade. This research provides further evidence that circle hooks should be the recommended gear type when using a bycatch mitigation approach to manage PLL fisheries.