2015 Funded Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Projects
Enabling halibut bycatch reduction by Gulf of Alaska groundfish trawl fisheries: Tools for excluder testing and enhanced bycatch tracking.
To improve the ability of GOA trawlers and fishery managers to better track halibut bycatch, this project proposes to apply recently developed and improving electronic monitoring technology to provide accurate counts, lengths and time-on-deck for each halibut handled. This technology will be applied both in routine fisheries operations and a designed experiment to test trawl modifications to increase halibut escape during towing. By adapting and deploying this technology for the smaller trawlers of the Kodiak fleet, timely information on the amount of halibut bycatch will be provided and hence improve their ability to reduce such bycatch.
Such reduction will be achieved by:
- Enabling direct testing of excluder designs
- Improved feedback to captains as they adjust fishing locations, gear rigging, or operations to reduce bycatch
- Facilitating implementation of catch share management, providing the incentive structure and flexibility needed to achieve effective bycatch reduction at the individual vessel level
- Reducing handling time to improve halibut mortality.
University of California, San Diego
Continued Video, Acoustic, and Accelerometer Deployments on Pelagic and Demersal Longlines, for Observing Interactions with Bycatch Species
This proposal extends work by two earlier funded projects by continuing to deploy at least ten individual “TadPro” camera systems on both pelagic longlines off Hawai'i and demersal longlines off Alaska, after extending their recording endurance. “TadPro” acoustic/video recorders will be expanded to incorporate accelerometer data logging, for mounting onto the mainline of a longline haul. Fishermen partners will deploy these instruments off the Alaskan coast on 15 sets of longline gear. The demonstration species addressed in this work will be target species like sablefish, grenadier, and halibut; various kinds of bycatch species like rockfish and potentially sharks and skates; and (opportunistically) sperm whale depredation. Longline interactions by all these species will be confirmed by video, and temporal features of both acoustic and accelerometer measurements will be made to determine whether a combination of acoustic/accelerometer measurements can be used to flag whether a particular species is present on a given hook and whether multiple hooks could be monitored by a single sensor package.
University of New England
Quantifying and reducing post-release mortality for dusky sharks discarded in the commercial pelagic longline fishery.
This project will evaluate the post-release mortality of dusky sharks captured by pelagic longline gear beginning January of 2016. Dusky sharks captured using standard pelagic longline fishing methods will be affixed with a high rate pop-up satellite archival tag prior to release to evaluate extended (~30 days) post-release mortality. Biological, physical, and capture variables including, but not limited to time on the hook (measured with hook timers), size, sex, hook location, water temperature, tissue damage and gangion length, will be recorded. Statistical analyses will incorporate the study variables and post-release mortality estimates to produce a model that identifies conditions (fishing practices) that minimize post-release mortality. These results will be used to produce a “best practice guidance” protocol to be disseminated to management sources and the pelagic longline fishery by various pathways.
Determining the post-release mortality rate and best capture-and-handling methods for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) discarded in Gulf of Maine lobster industry.
This project will evaluate the physical injury of Gulf of Maine Atlantic cod immediately following capture by standard lobster gear during dedicated research trips conducted under fishery-dependent conditions. Prior to release, acoustic transmitters with depth sensors will be affixed to a subsample of assessed cod, which will be continuously monitored in their natural environment by an array of 30 acoustic receivers to evaluate acute and delayed mortality. These mortality data will subsequently be applied to the broader sample of assessed cod to derive robust discard mortality rates applicable at the fishery-wide scale. In addition, best practice recommendations will be determined to enhance survival of cod captured in lobster gear by examining injury and fishing-related factors contributing to mortality. By disseminating results to fishery stakeholders via various outreach networks, this study will provide accurate discard mortality data for cod captured via lobster gear and relevant information for promoting survival of released individuals.
The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY)
Development of an Analytical Tool to Allow Fishermen to Reduce Bycatch of Short-Finned Pilot Whales in the Mid-Atlantic Bight
The total annual estimated fishery-related mortality and serious injury of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) in the pelagic longline fishery is expected to exceed the potential biological removal limit for this stock in 2015. The Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Team has been working to reduce mortality and serious injury in this fishery since 2005. Previous attempts to decrease the number of interactions, such as limiting mainline length or the use of acoustic deterrents, have proven to be unsuccessful. One, largely unexplored, alternative approach to this problem is to provide fishermen with information so that they can avoid these interactions in the first place. Recent telemetry studies suggest that short-finned pilot whale habitat is more spatially constrained than previously understood. Preliminary analyses indicate that this habitat can be predicted using readily available oceanographic data such as bathymetry and sea surface temperature, suggesting that it would be feasible for fisherman to use this information to avoid pilot whale “hotspots”. This project will rigorously quantify the spatial and temporal overlap between short-finned pilot whales and pelagic longlines in the Mid-Atlantic Bight to identify areas and times of high risk for interactions between pilot whales and longline gear. Fishermen will then be able to use this information to make decisions concerning where and when to fish that reduce the likelihood of interacting with pilot whales.
New England Aquarium Corporation
Identifying bottom trawl bycatch hotspots and capture and handling practices to reduce the incidental mortality of an overfished Species of Concern—the thorny skate—in the Gulf of Maine.
Existing fisheries-dependent and independent data will be mined to identify locations and times where the likelihood of thorny skate bycatch is high (bycatch hotspots) within the Gulf of Maine. Next, working with a commercial fisherman, evaluation of the vitality and condition of trawl-caught thorny skates will be conducted and a subsample monitored for up to 30 days. Results from each component will be integrated to develop practical bycatch avoidance strategies for thorny skates in the (e.g., geographic areas that should be avoided in space and time) and to provide clear recommendations on best-practice fishing and handling methods (e.g., maximum tow times, handling methods, optimal time on deck) for reducing in trawl-caught thorny skates.
The University of Mississippi
Reducing Shark Bycatch in Commercial and Recreational Fisheries.
The objective of this project is to develop autorelease leaders that would allow sharks to break the fishing line while retaining target species (tuna, swordfish, redfish, seatrout). The effectiveness of the gear as compared to standard gear would be tested on longlines and using rod-and-reel, primarily during the spring/summer months of 2016. Modifications to the design would be made as necessary until maximum performance is achieved.
The specific objectives are to:
- Develop two different leaders for potential use in the commercial and recreational fisheries.
- Evaluate both ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene and monofilament line for use with the leaders.
- Partner with NOAA Fisheries to conduct tests of the leaders during longlining in the Gulf of Mexico
- Determine the most effective leader ARL design and analyze its potential effectiveness for use in commercial and recreational fisheries.
- Inform stakeholders such as commercial and recreational fishers and local and regional management bodies, as to the effectiveness of the leader system to increase knowledge and effect broader use of the gear.
North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Technical Solutions to Reduce Bycatch in the North Carolina Otter Trawl Shrimp Fishery
The proposed project will build on the results from a current Conservation Fund and National Fish and Wildlife Fund grants and will address the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Conservation request by continuing an industry workgroup, conducting two formal workshops prior to industry-led testing (in conjunction with the project meetings), evaluating bycatch reduction devices aboard three commercial trawlers in the summer brown shrimp fishery, and conducting an outreach workshop following testing to communicate to industry the most promising configurations. Should optimal devices be identified in this process, fishery managers and the commercial industry will have more tools to better manage and maintain this economically critical fishery. While data will be gathered from comparative testing aboard commercial shrimp trawlers in North Carolina, the technology identified in this process can be transferred throughout the Southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico commercial trawl fisheries where finfish bycatch is also an issue.
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
Modifying trawl selectivity to reduce Chinook salmon bycatch in the Pacific hake fishery.
The objective of this study is to test a flexible sorting grid bycatch reduction device designed to reduce Chinook salmon bycatch and evaluate its efficacy in the Pacific hake fishery. This research will occur over 12 days of gear testing aboard a chartered Pacific hake fishing vessel. Trawling will be conducted using a
commercial-sized midwater trawl and outfitted with the identified flexible sorting grid device. Retention and escapement rates will be quantified using a recapture net. Video camera systems will be used periodically to gather information on fish behavior in the vicinity of the device. A GLMM will be used to compare the proportion of fish catch at length to determine if retention is length-related.
Hanan and Associates, Inc.
Testing potential bycatch reduction from deep-set compared to shallow-set pelagic longline fishing targeting swordfish in the California Current.
This project was set up to use fishermen’s knowledge of where and how to fish swordfish sustainably within the West Coast EEZ. The project intends to use techniques developed in the Hawai'ian longline fishery proven to reduce bycatch off the West Coast. To perform the project, one or two commercial fishing vessels with experienced longline captains will collaborate with NOAA Fisheries scientists on fishing locations likely to produce swordfish with reduced bycatch of marine mammals and sea turtles. The project intends to test shallow set longlines (<100m) versus deep-set longlines (>100m) and test for significant differences in targeted catch and bycatch. Shallow sets will be fished during the night and deep sets fished during the day. If using one vessel we will alternate between gear types from one set to the next in the same general location. If using two vessels we will have one vessel perform shallow sets and the other do deep sets. In the second year, vessels will use the gear type not used the first year. All trips and each set will be monitored by NOAA Fisheries approved and trained observers. All observer data form will be collected by the after each trip.
Cascadia Research Collective
False killer whale movements in relation to longline fishing activity: assessment of interactions using satellite tag and fisheries data to develop best practices to reduce bycatch.
The goal of this research is to examine the relationship between movements of satellite-tagged false killer whales and longline fishing effort to inform fishing best practices to reduce bycatch. Analyses to address this goal are currently being undertaken with existing data, and this project would allow for additional field efforts to increase the sample size of tag data which will also contribute greatly to future research beyond the scope of this project.