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Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program – 2014 Report to Congress

By gathering halibut length and weight data and using smartphone technology, Alaskan recreational fishermen can improve survival for halibut after release.

Related Links

2014 BREP Report to Congress: Press Release
National Bycatch Program
Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP)
National Bycatch Report
National Cooperative Research Program

Researchers tag sharks to gather data on survival and recovery after release.

February 18, 2016

While U.S. fisheries are among the world’s most sustainable, bycatch is a complex, global issue that threatens the sustainability and resiliency of our fishing communities, economies, and ocean ecosystems. NOAA Fisheries is committed to minimizing bycatch in U.S. fisheries to ensure our fisheries remain sustainable and protected species are given the best chance to recover. We are working on multiple fronts to improve our approach to bycatch.

One example of this is the NOAA Fisheries Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program, which helps identify and foster the development of innovative technological solutions to bycatch problems in our nation’s fisheries. The BREP provides funds critical to key partners for developing technological solutions and investigate changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch of fish and protected species and minimize bycatch injury and mortality.

The 2014 Report to Congress includes details on projects that were funded with FY2013 funds. Highlighted projects include:

Below is a full list of the funded projects.

Projects by Priority Area

Reducing Protected Species Bycatch

Cardno ENTRIX—Modify commercial fishing gear to reduce Atlantic sturgeon interactions in North Carolina and Mid-Atlantic gillnet fisheries. 

Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc.—Evaluate a topless bottom trawl design to exclude sea turtles.

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission—Increase visibility of trawl components to reduce threatened eulachon (smelt) bycatch in the ocean shrimp trawl fishery.

SUBMON—Train longline fishermen and observers to increase post-release survival of accidentally captured sea turtles and other protected species.

Improving Fishing Practices

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission—Reduce sablefish and rockfish bycatch in West Coast groundfish bottom trawl flatfish fishery.

Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research—Facilitate the development and implementation of deep-set buoy gear off the California coast.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore—Determine the impacts of trap fishing on Mid-Atlantic seafloor habitats, with emphasis on structure-forming invertebrates.

Innovative Technologies

BelleQuant Engineering—Model the dynamics of Baleen whale entanglements in fishing gear.

Cornell University—Enhance the bycatch avoidance communications network.

Integrity Fishing Corp—Use a light-weight riser sweeper to minimize impacts to bottom habitat in the otter trawl fishery.

The Nature Conservancy—Test pot gear innovation for the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery.

Reducing Post-Release Mortality

Alaska Charter Association—Use digital imaging to reduce recreationally released halibut mortality in Alaska.

Farleigh Dickinson University—Optimize gear size and post-release mortality reduction in New Jersey summer flounder hook-and-line fishery.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission—Explore methods for the safe release of reef fish recreationally caught on hook-and-line gear in the Gulf of Mexico.

MOTE Marine Laboratory—Test technology to assess large coastal shark bycatch mortality.

University of California, San Diego (Scripps Oceanography)—Examine low oxygen as cause of mortality following catch-and-release barotrauma to rockfish.