Real Solutions: When fishermen, researchers & policy makers work together

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Good things happen when stakeholders collaborate, especially when it is anchored by scientific research and fact-finding.

In November 2014, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries received monies from the Marine Fisheries Commission’s Conservation Fund, with matching support from the shrimping industry, to support research into bycatch reduction methods. The testing began in 2015 during the summer brown shrimp fishery.

The project team received additional monies from two, peer-reviewed funding sources: NOAA Fisheries’ Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (which was used to test bycatch reduction device (BRD) prototypes in the 2016 summer brown shrimp fishery) and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Fisheries Innovation Fund (which allowed for testing of the BRD prototypes in the 2016 fall white shrimp fishery).

For the purposes of the research, a BRD is any gear or trawl modification designed to allow finfish to escape from a shrimp trawl.

Most of the research methodology follows the NOAA Fisheries’ Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual (2008), which establishes a standardized process for evaluating the ability of BRD candidates to meet the established federal bycatch reduction criterion to be certified for use by southeastern shrimp fishermen in federal waters. Collecting data in this manner allows all the gear evaluations to be considered by NOAA Fisheries for certification, making these efforts not just a benefit to North Carolina fishermen but to all shrimpers in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. North Carolina has long been a model for other states. 

While one year away from wrapping up their three-year study, it appears the collaborating North Carolina shrimpers and researchers may be on to promising new methods that could drastically reduce bycatch associated with trawling with minimal reductions in overall trawling income which keeps many North Carolina coastal communities and families afloat. That's also good news for North Carolina shrimp lovers who increasingly have less and less appetite for foreign imports of questionable origin and safety.

See WNCT-9 Coverage

Bycatch Reduction Study Presentation (1/9/2017 - S. Mirabilio) (will be available shortly)

 Bycatch Reduction Study Presentation 2 (1/9/2017 - B. Price & L. Lee)

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