For 200 days of each of the past 44 years, Tony Borges has been setting out from New Bedford, Massachusetts in search of groundfish, fluke, and squid. That’s roughly 8,800 days for those of you keeping score at home. He started fishing with his father, though Borges says his father tried to dissuade him from being a fisherman. He encouraged Borges to join the U.S. Coast Guard instead.
Nevertheless, in 1977, along with his cousin, aunt, and father, he purchased the brand new FV Sao Paulo. He still owns and operates it today.
For the last seven years, Borges has also been participating in the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Study Fleet. As part of this scientific data collection program, he records haul-by-haul catch (kept and discarded) information for all species.
When I met Borges early one morning on the Sao Paulo, he was down in the engine room covered in grease. He was working on his vessel’s first complete overhaul in 40 years!
We went to the wheelhouse to talk. He showed me the computer dedicated to running our Fisheries Logbook Data Recording Software (FLDRS), which he uses to record data from each of his tows. He showed me the temperature probe on one of his trawl doors, which collects bottom water temperatures while fishing. Trawl doors are steel panels on either side of the net that keep it open when it’s being towed.
Commercial fishing vessels in the Study Fleet collect and report both kept and discarded catch, and bottom water temperature data on every haul. Study Fleet vessels may also collect biological data from their catch when additional data needs are identified by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center scientists. We verify what is being reported by the captain and crew both at sea and through statistical data quality checks. Vessel owners are financially compensated for their participation in the Study Fleet.