Spatio-Temporal Analyses of Bycatch in the New England Groundfish Fishery

 

New England’s transition to catch share management, via sectors, has created an incentive for fishermen to reduce interactions with non-target species, which they previously discarded under days-at-sea management. For the first time, fishermen are not allowed to discard marketable fish, but instead must count them against their annual quota allocation. Most sectors have low quotas of several overfished species, which, if caught too quickly, closes the fishery and prevents fishermen from harvesting abundant target species. To prevent such closures and the consequent economic hardship to fishers and the economy, it is imperative that sectors be given the tools necessary to limit non-target species interactions and improve fishing efficiency. Targeted spatio-temporal management measures (i.e., fishery closures) are one solution open to sector managers.

This project brings together fishermen, scientists, geospatial analysts, computer programmers, managers, and non-profit organizations to develop tools to help fishermen avoid non-target species through spatio-temporal analysis. The project has the following objectives:

  1. Provide a mechanism to assist fishermen throughout the region in avoiding non-target species that have the potential to shut down their sector(s).
  2. Utilize retroactive data (via logbooks, EVTR, landings, oceanographic data, etc) and real time data (sector reporting data streams) in the analyses to provide near real-time management options.
  3. Synthesize available information for fisheries managers through an analytical framework for the spatio-temporal management of fisheries to reduce non-target species interactions and increase fishing efficiency.
  4. Develop a concrete, user friendly tool that is an extension of the existing Sector Manager Tool.
  5. Increase, or help ensure, economic efficiency within sectors through targeted harvesting that capitalizes on healthy stocks while avoiding weak stocks.
Funded by the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association (CCCHFA)
In collaboration with Melissa Sanderson, Eric Brazer, Karen Ryder