Bycatch and Discards – Decrease – AL Shrimp

Initiatives to Decrease Bycatch

NOAA conducts extensive research regarding BRDs (SEFSC Shrimp Research). The Pascagoula Lab in Mississippi houses the Harvesting Systems Unit, a team of biologists and gear specialists who perform critical research on fishing gear. The Harvesting Systems Unit does extensive research on BRDs for the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery, including cooperative research with commercial industry members to test improved gear designs, and also conducts trainings and courtesy inspections across the Gulf on commercial shrimp boats to ensure proper use of TEDs and BRDs (SEFSC Pascagoula Lab Harvesting Systems Unit).

There are also educational initiatives led by NOAA Fisheries, Texas Sea Grant and the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation (GSAFF) that are aimed at fishermen education regarding BRDs. All three projects train shrimp fishermen across the Gulf of Mexico on proper BRD and TED installation (Texas Sea Grant, Helies et al. 2014). In 2014, as part of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a marine extension agent and a marine fisheries specialist from Texas Sea Grant traveled to conduct dockside inspections, reaching 500 captains and crewmembers (Texas Sea Grant). The GSAFF has been active for at least three decades, hosting educational workshops for fishermen. Efforts focused on TED and BRD research and development and gear outreach have been deemed successful by NOAA Fisheries and GSAFF. The most recent outreach efforts by GSAFF were from 2011 to 2013 (Southeastern Fishery Bulletin). In that time period, the Regional Coordinators for the project traveled to eight states in the Gulf and South Atlantic, visiting 74 cities,  including the five main shrimp ports in Mississippi. NOAA, in addition to being responsible for the enforcement of TEDs, also has a Gear Monitoring Team (GMT) dedicated to outreach and education on TED regulations. The GMT may target areas of non-compliance based on boarding records (NOAA – SEFSC). The GMT coordinator’s contact information is also published on NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s website and he can be contacted directly to do dockside inspections with no penalty attached prior to a vessel’s departure.


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