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Purse Seines

Description: Purse seines are nets that are weighted on the bottom and float atop the water column with the use of buoys. Along the bottom of the net are a series of rings, known as the purse rings, through which a rope or wire is threaded, known as the purse line.  The purse line enables the closure of the bottom of the net similar to an old-fashion woman’s purse or half of a cylinder. Fishing vessel operators are occasionally supported by “spotters” in helicopters or use radar “fish finders” or other indicators, including dolphins in the tuna industry, to locate schools of fish. The fishing boats use the purse seine to encircle the school, and proceed  to chase the fish until they are compacted into the smallest possibly density. In larger fishing operations, extra vessels can be used for support. The purse line is pulled closed, creating a net open at the top and closed at the bottom and hauled back onto the ship.

Bycatch Threat: Purse seines are not selective, capturing any animal within the reach of the net. Dolphins are particularly susceptible to harm in the tuna purse seine fishery. Dolphins can also be easily stressed during the process.

Target Species:  Any schooling fish, including herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Notably, tuna intended for canning is caught more by purse seines than any other fishing method.

Geographical Range: Global

Bycatch Species: Dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks.