Red snapper released with a descender device.
Bycatch occurs when fishermen discard catch of marine species, or when resources like marine mammals, seabirds, corals, sponges, sea turtles or protected fish are harmed or killed by fishing gear. Reducing bycatch in fisheries can improve the recovery of protected species and have positive biological, economic, and social impacts. NOAA Fisheries has long been committed to reducing bycatch. The Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) supports technological solutions and conservation engineering practices that minimize bycatch and bycatch mortality in federally managed fisheries. BREP is also a key component of the 2016 National Bycatch Reduction Strategy. Since Fiscal Year 2012, NOAA Fisheries has supported 84 BREP awards to external partners including state governments, academia, and the fishing industry. This report summarizes the outcomes of BREP awards from Fiscal Year 2014. The majority of this work was done in Fiscal Year 2015, with results reported in Fiscal Year 2016.
The four program priority areas are:
In Fiscal Year 2014, NOAA Fisheries awarded $2.41 million for 18 bycatch reduction projects.
Two BREP-funded projects addressed bycatch of protected sea turtles and Chinook salmon along the East and West Coasts. BREP funding enabled grantees to provide insight into how gear modifications can help reduce protected species bycatch.
The Pacific hake mid-water trawl fishery is the largest groundfish fishery by volume on the West Coast.
Three BREP-funded projects along the West Coast focused on improving technology and increasing understanding of animal behavior and gear interactions to reduce fish and marine mammal bycatch.
Nine BREP-funded projects aimed to improve fishing practices along the East Coast, West Coast, Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico. These projects show promising results to help reduce bycatch and improve the sustainability of fisheries.
Four BREP recipients examined how to reduce post-release mortality in commercial and recreational fisheries on the West Coast, Atlantic, and Pacific Islands. The results of these projects will help improve estimates and management of post release-mortality in species, including sharks, rockfish, and false killer whales.
U.S. fishermen are involved with all aspects of BREP research, from designing and testing new gear to assisting with data collection. It is important that fishermen are involved at all levels of research, as commercial and recreational fishermen will use and implement the results of successful projects. Fishermen bring a unique perspective to the issue of bycatch and are knowledgeable about the solutions that may or may not work in their fisheries.
Here are some ways fishermen were involved in Fiscal Year 2014 projects:
In FY 2015, NOAA Fisheries awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of BREP.
This report responds to the requirements of Section 316(d) of Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
Chris Oliver, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator