Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Biology and Fisheries (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Robert K. Cowen - Committee Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

Eric D. Prince - Committee Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth A.Babcock - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew Bakun - Committee Member

Fifth Committee Member

C. Phillip Goodyear - Committee Member


Recent evidence suggests that overfishing of large predatory fishes has resulted in substantial population declines and pelagic longline (PLL) fishing is a major contributor. The primary objective of this dissertation is understanding factors that affect the interactions between marine fish PLL fishing. These factors are important to determine vulnerability of bycatch and target species, especially when PLL catch and effort data are used to estimate stock abundance. Chapter 1 reviews 107 publications/reports on this topic. Results indicate that accurate characterization of PLL gear performance requires empirical measurement of horizontal and vertical gear movement; and pop-up satellite tags (PSATs) are best suited for quantifying pelagic fish vertical habitat use if: (i) sampling resolution and data storage are not a function of tracking duration and (ii) substantial monitoring durations are employed. This review documents the current state of knowledge for these factors and guidance for future research. In Chapter 2, hook time-at-depth was monitored for commercial PLL sets targeting swordfish, Xiphias gladius. Temperature-depth recorders (TDRs) were deployed at the hook, systematically along the entire gear length. Results indicated that: (i) hook depth predictions based on catenary geometry drastically overestimated actual fishing depths and (ii) using catenary geometry fails to capture within- and among-set variability, potentially resulting in biased stock assessments. Chapter 3 used temperature-depth data from PSATs on swordfish and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and similar data from TDR monitored near-surface and deep PLL fishing to determine the diel probability of these species encountering PLL hooks. Results indicated that blue marlin and swordfish inhabit surface waters at night with similar probability of encountering PLL hooks but may have different vulnerabilities due to temporal separation in feeding with blue marlin preferring daytime and twilight and swordfish preferring nighttime. Therefore, reducing fishing during daylight hours may reduce blue marlin bycatch during PLL targeting swordfish. Chapter 4 alternated non-offset and 10° offset circle hooks during PLL fishing and compared the relative performance on catch rates, percent mortality, and deep hooking percentage. Results indicated that 10° offset circle hooks can reduce fishing efficiency and conservation benefits commonly associated with circle hooks.


Habitat-based Standardization; Billfish; Catenary; Habitat Envelope; Circle Hooks