Scallop Fishery Bycatch Avoidance Bycatch of flounder has constrained the sea scallop fishery since 1999. Between 2004 and 2009, bycatch closures resulted in economic losses of over US $100 million. To address this constraint, Marine Fisheries Institute researchers collaborated with the scallop fishing industry to initiate a bycatch avoidance program in 2010, and designed a system to collect information on flounder bycatch that relies upon the fishing fleet to provide data on catch and fishing locations. The team compiles the information and provides near real-time bycatch advisories to
Dr. Michael Pol (Division of Marine Fisheries) and Dr. Pingguo He (SMAST) tested a sorting grid inside of a fishing net to reduce bycatch of flounder.
the fleet. Vessels gain valuable information from all participants, which they can use to avoid bycatch “hotspots.” The program has the ability to cover all the fishing areas that overlap with flounder stocks, and includes over 250 fishery participants that voluntarily share information during years when flounder bycatch threatens to impact the scallop fishery. The project has been funded through the Scallop Research Set Aside grant program and donations from the fishing industry.
Fishermen pick through piles of scallops on deck to remove bycatch and other debris.
Conservation Engineering for Better Fishing Gear The Division of Marine Fisheries Conservation Engineering Project and SMAST’s Fish Behavior and Conservation Engineering Laboratory collaborate frequently on projects to support the commercial fishing industry and fishery management through improvements to commercial fishing gears to reduce ecosystem impacts and other unintended effects of commercial fishing. Working closely with the fishing fleet, these two programs develop and test innovations to trawls, gillnets, longlines,
and other fishing gears and fishing practices, reaching for win-win solutions that increase efficiency and profitability while at the same time protecting vulnerable fish stocks. The two Massachusetts teams have led international research efforts through the International Council for the Exploration of Seas (ICES) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation’s Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behavior to support and promote the latest
innovations on fishing gear technology. This collaboration has resulted in successful competitive proposals for federal research funding to test innovations from around the world, including off-bottom trawls, floating bridles, dual grid systems, and others. The work of these programs has been used by fishermen to promote special fishing access programs and to reduce fuel costs during fishing, and by managers to reduce bycatch and discards in various fisheries.
Acadian redfish, a healthy under-exploited stock, are hauled aboard a commercial vessel using gear that specifically targets the healthy fish.
MFI Annual Report 2017