Purse seine — Marine Stewardship Council
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Purse seine

Illustration of purse seine fishing gear

Purse seines are used in the open ocean to target dense schools of single-species pelagic (midwater) fish like tuna and mackerel. A vertical net ‘curtain’ is used to surround the school of fish, the bottom of which is then drawn together to enclose the fish, rather like tightening the cords of a drawstring purse.

Purse-seine fishing in open water is generally considered to be an efficient form of fishing. It has no contact with the seabed and can have low levels of bycatch. MSC certified fisheries using purse seines must ensure that they leave enough fish in the ocean to reproduce. This can be achieved by targeting schools of adult fish and using a mesh size large enough to allow smaller fish to swim free.

Purse seines can also be used to catch fish congregating around fish aggregating devices (FADs). This fishing method can result in higher levels of bycatch, making it harder for these fisheries to achieve MSC certification. 

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