Wednesday, October 30, 2019

NOAA Awards $2.3M for Bycatch Reduction Research

NOAA Fisheries has awarded more than $2.3 million to partners in support of innovative bycatch reduction research projects through its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

Among the 16 grantees for 2019, announced on Oct. 21, are:

• FishNext Research, Mountlake Terrace, Wash., $199.679;
• Wild Fish Conservancy, Duvall, Wash., $171.050;
• Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Portland Ore., $165,000;
• Coastal Monitoring Associates, San Diego., Calif., $119,746; and
• Natural Resources Consultants, Inc., Seattle, Wash., $100,874.

The FishNext Research project proposes to develop a new class of bycatch reduction technology for Alaska Pollock and Pacific whiting off Oregon and Washington. Bycatch reduction devices for trawls work by allowing selective release of bycatch species while retaining target species during fishing operations.

The Wild Fish Conservancy has proposed further testing of pound net traps for selective harvest and ecological monitoring in Lower Columbia River salmon fisheries. Specific objectives include construction and monitoring of a modified pound net trap in a currently untested area within the lower Columbia River in Oregon and determining the effectiveness of the modified trap in targeting hatchery-reared Chinook and coho salmon stocks while reducing protected species bycatch mortality.

A study planned by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission would begin with a collaborative workshop to discuss and identify gear modifications that can enhance performance of an existing bycatch reduction device that harvesters and gear researchers feel can reduce rockfish bycatch. Sea trials will then measure the gears’ selectivity performance, with fish retention and escapement rates quantified using a recapture net.

Coastal Monitoring Associates will use its grant to develop and demonstrate proof-of-concept for a rope-less fishing system, with the focus ranging from a low-cost underwater release system to the right balance of risk reduction and cost effectiveness.

Natural Resources Consultants proposes to reduce king and snow crab bycatch in the Pacific cod and halibut pot fisheries by developing and testing pot modifications most effective to not allowing crab to enter pots. Initially the project team plans to host an industry gear committee meeting to determine what gear modifications to test. Cooperating industry will test the most promising pot designs in active fisheries.

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