Since its inception in 2014, I’ve been lucky enough to serve as one of the field technicians collecting data on the Gulf of Maine Bottom Longline Survey. This survey happens on two Massachusetts-based commercial fishing vessels, the Tenacious II and the Mary Elizabeth. After every survey, we talk about how we can improve our protocols and changes that might improve the workflow. The Japanese concept of kaizen, where businesses strive to find “continuous improvements,” often comes to my mind.
Some improvements are small and incremental. Last year we purchased small collapsible stools to reduce how far we needed to reach to grab fish out of baskets. This year, we added a larger base and small screws to hold the basket during rough seas.
Other improvements are more substantial. During the fall 2020 season we introduced a new tablet-based data collection application that eliminated the last of our paper logs. We also integrated new hardware, such as barcode scanners and connected scales. Over the winter, the application development team squashed bugs and refined the app. On a relatively small boat 100 miles from shore, any quality of life enhancements have a multiplying effect.
So far this spring we have sampled quite a few cusk from the deeper waters of the Gulf of Maine. Thorny skates, haddock, Acadian redfish, and spiny dogfish have also been well represented in the catches. Going to sea always brings other highlights as well. So far we’ve been blessed with calm seas and a few great sunsets. Getting rained on for a full day is no fun, but seeing a porbeagle shark swimming around the boat “taste testing” some of our catch sure was thrilling! On our first trip we sailed under the full moon and saw quite a few whales in Cape Cod Bay.
Aboard the F/V Tenacious II