Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program (CCE) has been funded by NOAA’s Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program to offer an economical bycatch reduction technology to New England’s small mesh trawl fishermen at no cost. This bycatch reduction gear option known as the “Large Mesh Belly Panel (LMBP)” can be used proactively to reduce bycatch of Northeast groundfish catch share species and stocks that are overfished and where overfishing is occurring.
CCE has successfully tested this gear aboard industry vessels and the gear has proven to greatly reduce bycatch of yellowtail, winter and windowpane flounder without reducing the catch of small mesh target species including squid, whiting and scup.
Based on the success of these studies using the large mesh belly panel, National Marine Fisheries Service has certified the use of the large mesh belly panel trawl as an approved gear option that can be used when yellowtail flounder Accountability Measures are triggered.
CCE has implemented a voucher program to help fishermen obtain and utilize this proven gear at no cost by coordinating with two gear suppliers - Superior Trawl in Point Judith RI and Reidar’s Manufacturing in New Bedford, MA. The large-mesh belly panel can be retro-fitted to small mesh trawl nets currently being fished. Partnering gear suppliers can insert the large mesh belly panel directly into the trawl net or they can provide the gear as a kit to be self-installed.
What Fishermen Need to Do
Step 1 – Apply for Voucher. Small mesh fishermen possessing valid federal permits are eligible to receive a voucher. CCE requests that fishermen fill out a simple application with vessel and contact information. Contact CCE Fishery Specialist Tara McClintock at email@example.com or (631) 740-6486 for voucher.
Step 2 - Receive Voucher & Gear. A total of 25 gear vouchers will be issued after an application has been reviewed. Vouchers can be redeemed at Superior Trawl in RI or Reidar’s Manufacturing, Inc. in MA. Large mesh belly panels can be installed directly into an existing net by the gear supplier or received in a kit form for fishermen to install themselves.
Step 3 – Complete Survey. CCE requests that participating fishermen complete a monthly survey documenting the effectiveness of the gear. The survey will include: overall gear performance as well as percent of bycatch reduced and target species retained. CCE will conduct these short surveys via email or phone after the gear has been installed on the vessel.
Last updated September 21, 2021