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Supporting Innovation in Bycatch Reduction

Turtle Excluder Device, Bycatch Reduction Device combo being tested by Texas A&M University as part of their 2012 BREP funding. Photo credit: Texas A&M University.

Useful Links

National Bycatch Program
Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP)
2013 BREP Grant Awards (PDF)
National Bycatch Report
National Cooperative Research Program


As part of its BREP-funded research, the New England Aquarium is using ultrasonic transmitters to help estimate the post-release mortality of angled and released Atlantic cod. Photo credit: New England Aquarium.

September 19, 2013

In September 2013, NOAA Fisheries awarded 16 grants totaling nearly $2.4 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program. Bycatch of various species—whether fish, marine mammals, or turtles—can have significant biological, economic, and social impacts. Preventing and reducing bycatch is a shared goal of fisheries managers, the fishing industry, and the environmental community. It is also a key component of NOAA’s efforts to end and prevent overfishing in the United States under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

NOAA Fisheries’ Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program provides funds critical to key partners for the research and development of innovative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, bycatch mortality, and post-release mortality of non-target species and protected species in federally managed fisheries. Ongoing projects are conducting research intended, among other things, to:

Find more program accomplishments in the annual report to Congress.

2013 Grant Recipients – Exploring Innovative Ways to Reduce Bycatch

The newly-awarded projects address a variety of species, including river herring, butterfish, summer flounder, halibut, coastal sharks, black sea bass, Atlantic sturgeon, monkfish, sea turtles, sablefish, West Coast groundfish, Pacific rockfish, baleen whales, Eulachon, and ocean shrimp. A list of grant recipients by region is listed below. For more details on each project, explore the project abstracts.


Alaska Charter Association
Project title: Use of digital imaging technology in the reduction of released halibut mortality in Alaska's recreational fishery


BelleQuant Engineering
Project title: Modeling the dynamics of Baleen whale entanglements in fishing gear
Integrity Fishing Corp.
Project title: Minimizing bottom habitat impacts in the otter trawl fishery with a light weight riser sweeper
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Project title: Optimization of gear size and post-release mortality reduction in the New Jersey summer flounder hook and line fishery
Cornell University
Project title: Enhanced bycatch avoidance communication network for river herring and butterfish
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Project title: Determination of the impacts of trap fishing on Mid-Atlantic benthic habitats, with emphasis on structure-forming invertebrates


Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
Project title: Reducing sablefish and rockfish bycatch in the U.S. West Coast groundfish bottom trawl directed flatfish fishery
The Nature Conservancy
Project title: Pot gear innovation for the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
Project title: Reducing ESA‐listed eulachon bycatch in the ocean shrimp trawl fishery: can increasing the
visibility of trawl components improve bycatch reduction?

Southeast and Caribbean

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Project title: Testing an alternative method for the safe release of reef fishes caught on hook-and-line gear in the recreational fishery in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc.
Project title: Further evaluation of a topless bottom trawl design with regard to excluding sea turtles
Project title: Commercial fishing gear modifications to reduce Atlantic sturgeon interactions in North Carolina and Mid-Atlantic gillnet fisheries


Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER)
Project title: Facilitating the development and future implementation of a deep-set buoy gear fishery off the California Coast
UC San Diego (Scripps Oceanographic Institution)
Project title: Examining environmental effects on rockfish catch-and-release survival: does low oxygen contribute to mortality following barotrauma?

Atlantic Highly Migratory Species

MOTE Marine Laboratory
Project title: Novel technology to assess mortality from bycatch in large coastal sharks


Project title: Training of U.S. longline fishermen and fishery observers to increase post-release survival of accidentally captured sea turtles and other protected species