Funding Innovative Research and Partnerships to Reduce Bycatch
West coast fishermen meet with conservation engineering
scientists at the Foulweather Trawl net loft in Oregon to discuss designs for bycatch reduction devices in the groundfish fishery.
August 29, 2012
Bycatch occurs when fishing operations result in discard of fish or interactions with marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles. Bycatch of various species—whether fish, marine mammals, or turtles—can have significant biological, economic, and social impacts on our nation’s fisheries. Reducing bycatch can help fishermen increase their fishing opportunities and efficiency and can also increase catch rates for target species.
NOAA Fisheries’ Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program provides funds to increase collaborative research and develop innovative approaches and strategies that reduce bycatch, seabird interactions, bycatch mortality, and post-release mortality of non-target species and protected species in federally managed fisheries. Under the program, NOAA Fisheries—working side-by-side with fishermen on their boats—develops solutions to some of the top bycatch challenges facing U.S. fisheries.
14 Grants Awarded to Research Innovative Ways to Reduce Bycatch
In 2012, NOAA Fisheries awarded 14 grants totaling nearly $2.5 million to external organizations. The newly-awarded projects address a variety of species, including right whales, humpback whales, fin whales, Pacific billfish, Chinook salmon, Dungeness crab, Atlantic sharks, Atlantic herring, yellowtail flounder, Atlantic cod, sperm whales, false killer whales, Pacific swordfish, Pacific rockfish, Southeastern shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. As part of their research, several grant recipients will use partnerships with commercial fishermen and industry to enhance collaboration. For example:
- The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation will collaborate with Maine lobstermen to investigate the distribution and density of fixed-gear fishing efforts 3-12 miles off the shore of Maine.
- The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will work with Pacific hake fishermen and a net manufacturer to determine whether artificial light helps Chinook salmon escape from trawl nets.
Find more program accomplishments in the annual report to Congress. Some past projects have included:
- Conducting outreach to improve compliance with turtle excluder device requirements in shrimp trawl fisheries
- Engineering weaker circle hooks to release Bluefin tuna in the yellowfin tuna fishery
- Developing salmon excluder devices to reduce Chinook salmon bycatch in the Alaska Pollock fishery.
National Bycatch Program
Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program
2012 BREP Grant Awards
National Bycatch Report
National Cooperative Research Program
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