Dual projects involving the adaptation of two European models of grid systems are currently underway to help reduce catch of low-quota yellowtail flounder and juvenile haddock on Georges Bank.
The NOAA Fisheries Saltonstall-Kennedy (SK) Grant Program awarded two projects with a total of $481,000 to Dr. Pingguo He to adopt and design a German-style flatfish-excluding grid and a Sort X grid from European devices. The flatfish-excluding grid will be modified from a German-style design that was tested in Baltic Sea to release low-quota, species such as yellowtail flounder and windowpane flounder, while harvesting legal-size haddock. The Sort X grid was modified from a Norwegian design to reduce juvenile haddock while harvesting haddock. These grid systems are designed to release low-quota or juvenile fish while fishing to reduce mortality of fish that have been discarded or have escaped from fishing gears.
Both projects, which are a collaborative effort with the local fishing industry and gear manufacturers as well as Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in one of them, received funding for a one-year period. Funding for the yellowtail flounder project is $233,500. Funding for the haddock project is $247,500.
“We collaborate with researchers in Germany, Norway, Sweden, and throughout Europe to try to understand principles based on the behavior of different fish species and design unique tools for fishermen to catch fish based on different circumstances, i.e., availability of quota. Not only does this enable fishermen to catch healthy stocks in which they have large quotas, it also improves the survival rate of released species such as yellowtail flounder,” said He.