Artificial lights improve the catchability of snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) traps

Khanh Q. Nguyen, Paul D. Winger, Corey Morris, Scott M. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the behaviour and commercial catchability of snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) in response to different low-powered LED lights under laboratory and field conditions. We created a novel choice-experiment in a laboratory setting in which we investigated the behaviour of snow crab in response to coloured LED lights. The results showed that snow crab movement was dependent on light colour, with animals choosing to move toward blue and white lights, away from purple lights, and no detectable effect for green and red lights. We then conducted two field experiments to investigate the effect of the same LED lights on the catch rates of commercial traps during the 2016 snow crab fishery on the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Results from the first field experiment showed that adding white and purple LED lights into baited traps significantly improved Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) by 77% and 47% respectively. Results from the second field experiment showed that unbaited traps equipped with only LED lights (no bait), could also catch snow crab in comparable amounts to traditional baited traps, with soak time and depth explaining some of the variation in CPUE. Taken together, these experiments suggest that fishing enterprises can improve their catching performance and profitability by adding LED lights to their traps, or by using LED lights as a bait replacement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-133
Number of pages10
JournalAquaculture and Fisheries
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Catchability
  • Chionoecetes opilio
  • Crab behaviour
  • LED light
  • Snow crab

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