Balancing conservation and utilization along the US Atlantic coast

Researchers at the School for Marine Science & Technology and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries have developed a voluntary program to reduce the catch of threatened fishes

Alewife in herring catch

Reducing the catch of non-targeted species or discarding of target species (bycatch) in commercial fisheries has become one the foremost, global issues facing fisherman, fishery managers and conservationists. However, the impact and spatial distribution of bycatch is frequently unknown making it difficult to develop effective, justifiable mitigation regulations.

This challenge is exemplified by the bycatch of river herring and American shad in the mid-water trawl fishery targeting Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel. As an alternative to immediate management action, a voluntary bycatch avoidance program was established through an industry, state government, and university partnership.

A recent study shows the program, positively influenced fishing habits and played a role in the approximately 60% decrease in total bycatch and 20% decrease in the bycatch rate.

Read the complete study “Bridges to best management: Effects of a voluntary bycatch avoidance program in a mid-water trawl fishery,” which appears in the recently published issue of Marine Policy.

News and Public Information, Research, School for Marine Science and Technology