The CFRF will continue its Gear Trials Program for one more year. The program provides financial assistance in the form of vouchers for fishing vessels installing one or two types of gear modifications: 1) a 12” drop chain, and 2) a large mesh belly panel. Both gear types have been tested and proven to be effective in reducing winter flounder bycatch in the small mesh trawling fishery while retaining targeted species such as squid. To date 47 fishing vessels have applied for the vouchers, which can be used at either Superior Trawl in Pt. Judith or Reidars Manufacturing in New Bedford. Vouchers are still available for an additional 25 vessels.

On the research side, Cornell scientists have been working with the captains/crew of the F/V Lightning Bay and F/V Excalibur out of Point Judith, to test the two gear types in the whiting fishery. Preliminary results indicate that the drop chain and belly panel modifications are effective in reducing winter flounder bycatch while retaining whiting. Qualitative information coming back from the fishing vessels participating in the Gear Trials Program is also being compiled.
As the NEFMC moves towards accountability measures such as closed areas, it is becoming increasingly important for the small mesh trawling fleet to participate in programs such as Gear Trials to demonstrate that the fishing industry is taking proactive measures to fish selectively.

To apply for gear vouchers, visit www.geartrials.org or call the CFRF office at (401) 515-4892.

April 10, 2014 | Registered CommenterSquid Trawl Network