Scotian Shelf / Bay of Fundy
Fish harvesters drag a large cone-shaped net along the seafloor to catch redfish along with other species such as pollock, haddock, cod and flounder, among others. The net is sunk and held open by two “otter boards” that look like large, heavy steel or wooden doors. As the net is towed at low speed, currents push the boards outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path. The net is then hauled to the surface using hydraulic winches and a drum. A single tow can net thousands of redfish along with incidental catch. Redfish is also caught when trawlers target other fish species.
Also known as “dragging,” bottom trawling uses a large net made of polyethylene to catch fish. Steel or wooden doors spread the net open. Floats are attached to the upper mouth of the net to keep it open vertically and weighted “bobbins” are attached to the lower mouth to sink the net. The bobbins’ design depends on the terrain, varying from small rubber discs for smooth sandy seafloors to large metal balls for rough ground. Known as “rock hoppers,” bobbins lift the net over obstacles on the seafloor.
In Atlantic Canada, many different groundfish species are incidentally caught in bottom trawls. These include halibut, haddock, cod, hake, redfish and pollock, among others. Each year, about 60 to 70 trawlers under 65 feet (20 metres) actively participate in the groundfish fishery. In total, 305 trawlers under 65 feet are licensed to catch groundfish.
Bottom trawls cause habitat damage when dragged along the seabed and undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) are also incidentally caught.
The groundfish trawl fishery is managed through individual transferable quotas for vessels under 65 feet (20 metres). A number of measures address conservation in this fishery, including:
Ocean Wise - No rating
SeaChoice - No rating
Seafood Watch - No rating
Dec 31 - Jan 01
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery in partnership with eight Community-Based Management Boards in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. For more information, visit DFO’s Martime Region homepage.
For the most recent redfish stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports.
Fish caught by bottom trawling are hauled aboard in a large net and stored in a mixture of ice and seawater or slush. Fishing vessels can stay at sea for more than a week. Properly handled and chilled on ice, fresh groundfish has a shelf life of 9 to 15 days.
The Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy fishing area is located off the eastern shores of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, running from the northern tip of Cape Breton to the United States-New Brunswick border. The area encompasses the Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Fundian Channel, Browns Bank, Rosemary Bank, Baccaro Bank, Le Havre Bank and Le Havre Basin. It also includes part of Georges Bank, an oval-shaped, relatively shallow bank, that lies at the southwestern end of a chain of banks stretching from Newfoundland.