NOAA Fisheries has awarded $2.5 million to partners nationwide for bycatch reduction research projects through its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP), including three each on the West Coast and Pacific Islands and two for research in Alaska.
The grants include $179,873 to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in Portland, Ore.; $228,876 to the Pfleger Institute of Environment Research in Oceanside, Calif.; and $199.500 to the Wild Fish Conservancy in Seattle.
Other grants include $78,700 to Eric Gilman LLC in Honolulu; $139,659 to the University of California, San Diego; $221,309 to the University of Washington; and $199,870 to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, which is headquartered in Seattle.
Six projects in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic and Southeast/Gulf of Mexico, were also funded.
Bycatch includes harvest that fishermen do not want, can’t sell, or are not allowed to keep. Bycatch of some species, including fish, marine mammals or turtles, can have significant biological, economic and social impact, so a goal of preventing and reducing bycatch is shared by fisheries managers, the fishing industry and environmentalists, NOAA officials said.
Fisheries officials said that by working side-by-side with fishermen on their boats they had developed solutions to some of the top bycatch challenges. These include research on the West Coast that showed that a dual sorting, flexible grid system called Flexigrid reduces under-sized sablefish bycatch by over 45%, while maintaining catch of adult sablefish and other target species.
NOAA Fisheries said its research priorities for fiscal year 2023 include researching new technology, encouraging technology adoption, reducing post-release mortality, avoiding habitat interactions and conducting international research.