River herring avoidance in the Atlantic herring and mackerel fisheries
The incidental catch of river herring by vessels targeting Atlantic herring and mackerel has become a concern for their conservation. Though the direct effect of this bycatch on river herring populations is unknown, managers have created river herring catch limits. If river herring catch limits are reached, large areas of the Atlantic herring fishery or the entire mackerel fishery would be closed. This collaborative project between mid-water trawl fishermen, Rhode Island bottom trawl fishermen, the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and SMAST seeks to reduce river herring and shad bycatch independent of management action; aiding in the effort to rebuild river herring and providing fishermen with a tool to avoid area closures.
The project involves increasing portside sampling, a near real-time information system on the location bycatch events, and testing if oceanographic features can be used to indicate areas with a high probability of bycatch. Portside sampling through the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, which samples about 50% of all landings in Massachusetts, is the main information source for the project. However, several other institutions contribute to the project to increase the number of trips monitored. All observations from the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program are reported in near real-time, while the vessels are at-sea. NOAA Study Fleet and the Maine Department of Marine Resource provide additional samples when the vessels land. The project was started in 2010, with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife foundation. It is now sustained by the Atlantic herring Research Set Aside (RSA) program.
Recent Bycatch Maps
Herring Research Set Aside (RSA) Information: Through the Atlantic herring RSA program, SMAST recieved 347 mt of Atlantic herring quota in 2020 to generate funds for the river herring bycatch avoidance and portside monitoring programs. The 2020 RSA quota was distributed to companies that previsouly agreed to be held to a higher standard while harvesting RSA quota and consitently particapted in the river herring bycatch avoidance program as outlined in a Responsible Fishing Agreement.
2019 RSA Landings and River herring bycatch
|Area||Quota Distributed||RSA Trips Landed||RSA Trips Monitored||Atlantic Herring Landed||River Herring Bycatch|
Past Avoidance System Results
Bycatch classifcations were changed in 2015 to reflect river herring catch limits. Since then high bycatch eventsrelfect a rate at which river herring catch limits will be reached before mid-water trawl Atlantic herring or Atlantic mackerel catch limits. Take caution when comparing high bycatch events between years.
- 2019 Winter - Mid-water trawl
- 2018 Fall - Mid-water trawl
- 2018 Winter - Mid-water trawl
- 2017 Fall - Mid-water trawl
- 2017 Winter - Mid-water trawl
- 2016 Fall - Mid-water trawl
- 2016 Winter - Bottom Trawl
- 2016 Winter - Mid-water Trawl
- 2015 Fall - Mid-water Trawl
- 2015 Winter - Bottom Trawl
- 2015 Winter - Mid-water Trawl
- 2014 Fall - Mid-water trawl
- 2014 Winter - Bottom Trawl
- 2014 Winter - Mid-water Trawl
- 2013 Fall - Mid-water Trawl
- 2013 Winter - Bottom Trawl
- 2013 Winter - Mid-water Trawl
- 2012 Fall - Mid-water Trawl
- 2012 Winter - Mid-water Trawl
- 2012 Winter - Bottom Trawl
- 2011 Fall - Mid-water trawl
- 2011 Winter - Mid-water Trawl
For more information, contact:
Brad Schondelmeier 978-282-0308 x123
David Bethoney 401-515-4662
SMAST Bycatch Avoidance Program
SMAST is running the Bycatch Avoidance Program for yellowtail and windowpane flounder in fishing year 2017, including the Closed Area II access area on Georges Bank.
The Bycatch Avoidance program uses near real-time communications with fishing vessels to determine the location of bycatch hotspots to assist scallopers in harvesting their target scallop allocation without triggering bycatch accountability measures. The program was started in 2010 with the collaboration of the scallop fleet.
Bycatch Update: Latest Bycatch Advisory
The 2017 SMAST Bycatch Avoidance Program began on March 23, 2017.
All information to participate can be found in the links below:
- How to participate in the Bycatch Avoidance Program
- 2017 Reporting Grid: CAII
- Data Entry Sheet
- Boatracs Email Authorization
- 2016 Scallop Distribution and Model-Predicted Yellowtail Discard Ratio
- Frequently Asked Questions
For more information or to sign up to participate, contact:
Brooke Wright: firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-910-6372