NARRAGANSETT—After extensive research, The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) is giving local fishermen the opportunity to try two new gear types and report back on their results. The Gear Trials Program will provide financial assistance to fishing vessel owners who wish to take on the new gear types, and the hope is that their real-time performance will give the local commercial fishing industry insight on how to better reduce bycatch and maximize catch shares.
“The CFRF is excited about being able to provide this opportunity to the fishing community,” said Peg Petruny-Parker, Executive Director of CFRF. “So far, these two gear types have shown success at being able to significantly reduce winter flounder bycatch in the southern New England stock area within the small mesh squid fishery.”
“The CFRF believes strongly in providing fishing vessel captains with appropriate tools to fish selectively as needed and leaving the decisions of how and when to use these tools up to them,” she added.
The two new gear types are 12-inch drop chain and large mesh belly panel, which have been designed to reduce winter flounder bycatch among small mesh trawl fisheries, although CFRF hopes that fishermen who employ small mesh netting for other species will find the gear equally successful. The gear types were tested through two previous phases of the Gear Trials Program in which concepts were finalized and the physical gear, once constructed, was tested.
“Through this program we are piloting a new approach,” said Petruny-Parker. “We will be able to combine fishermen observations with at sea research to determine if these gear types have other applications as bycatch reduction tools, or if they would benefit from additional modifications.”
For the complete lowdown on the new gear program, pick up your nearest copy of The Narragansett Times.