The scallop fishing fleet is working with SMAST to avoid bycatch of yellowtail flounder in areas of Georges Bank again in 2012. The real-time communication system will be used in Closed Area I, Closed Area II and the Nantucket Lightship for the 2012 fishing season. Annual Catch Limits for yellowtail flounder are applied to the scallop fishery for the Southern New England and Georges Bank flounder stocks. Exceeding the Annual Catch Limits can result in costly time/area closures of lucrative scallop fishing grounds. SMAST devised a yellowtail bycatch avoidance system where the scallop fleet voluntarily provides real-time yellowtail catch data through satellite communication, then SMAST compiles the fleet information and emails the locations of yellowtail "hotspots" back to the fleet. In 2010 and 2011, only 30% of the yellowtail allocation was harvested from the rotational access fishing areas, keeping the areas open to harvest all of the valuable scallop allocation. The bycatch avoidance program has proven to be a critial tool for the fishermen to use to avoid the catch of flounder.
SMAST Yellowtail Bycatch Avoidance Program will start in Closed Area I, Closed Area II and Nantucket Lightship on June 15, 2012.
Managers of the Atlantic herring and mackerel fisheries are considering regulations to reduce river herring and shad bycatch. However, these regulations will likey come at considerable cost to the fisheries, and the effect of bycatch on river herring and shad populations is unknown. This collaborative project between the Sustainable Fisheries Coalition, Rhode Island bottom trawl fishermen, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and SMAST seeks to reduce river herring and shad bycatch without any changes to the current management or enforcement policies; aiding in the effort to rebuild river herring and shad populations without the cost of management action to fishermen. The project involves increasing portside sampling of Atlantic herring and mackerel landings, a near real-time information system on the location of river herring and shad bycatch events, and testing if oceangraphic features can be used to indicate areas with a high probability of bycatch.
Click on a location or time of interest from the list below for cumlative bycatch information.