Through our successful existing bycatch avoidance program we have designed a system to collect information on incidental catch that relies upon a proactive fishing fleet to provide data. Participating vessels supply CCE with daily real-time communications via Skymate or other Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) about catch rates of the 9 species included and monitored within our Network during fishing activities. Skymate is a required satellite vessel monitoring system that allows direct email communication with vessels while they are at sea or in port. Fishermen help identify “hot spots” which are areas or cells considered to have high concentration of bycatch of the 9 species within any reported tow. Using industry standards and recommendations we have established appropriate criteria for bycatch levels. For more successful and efficient operation of the bycatch avoidance network, CCE developed and implemented an easy to use Macro system through Skymate for reporting bycatch “hotspots”. The Macro has greatly assisted fishermen in entering data using prompts for specific bycatch data collection. The precise “hot spot” locations are identified by cell numbers on a nautical chart with a 10-minute square grid. Bycatch locations and levels are transmitted by the vessels directly to CCE through Skymate to firstname.lastname@example.org. In turn, CCE compiles the information and sends it back to the network of active fishing vessels via Skymate and online, providing spatial and temporal specific data on catch rates of non-target species allowing the fishing fleet to gain valuable information about distribution of these species in order to avoid bycatch “hot spot” areas. CCE monitors all bycatch reports daily, 7 days/week. A central database was created and is monitored by CCE. Using GIS software, charts are created and updated daily with all species which are included within our avoidance network for bycatch occurrence and are posted on the CCE website (www.ccesuffolk.org) and the Squid Trawl Network website (www.squidtrawlnetwork.com). The websites allow for increased data transfer to the overall fleet including those preparing to leave port. Due to cost to the vessels receiving reports the current program only broadcasts high and urgent “hot spots” while all other information and bycatch levels are posted to the website. Participating vessels are encouraged to involve non-participating vessels by using radio communication of “hot spot” areas. A laminated booklet including updated reporting instructions and nautical charts will be created and distributed to new and old project participants. CCE staff will coordinate and conduct 5 at-sea observer days with participating vessels in order to monitor and facilitate proper bycatch reporting procedures and to provide assistance with troubleshooting in reporting hotspots via Skymate.
Last updated June 28, 2023