Joint initiative awarded funds through Atlantic Herring Research Set-Aside Program

SMAST and MA Division of Marine Fisheries project focuses on sustaining, improving and evaluating portside sampling and river herring incidental catch reduction in the Atlantic herring mid-water trawl fishery

Dave Bethoney holding up a large fish

David Bethoney, Research Faculty at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), along with Brad Schondelmeier and Bill Hoffman of the the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), have been awarded a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  grant in the amount of $480,600 to continue their successful river herring portside sampling and avoidance program.

The award, which has been made possible through the Atlantic Herring Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program, was recently announced by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, in coordination with the New England Fishery Management Council.

Since 2010, SMAST and the Massachusetts DMF have worked collaboratively with the mid-water trawl fleet to implement and improve near-real time communications to reduce river herring incidental catch.

Through this award, the research team will portside sample at least 50% of mid-water trawl trips landed in Massachusetts, continue the river herring avoidance program with the Atlantic herring mid-water trawl fleet, attempt to advance the communication systems use of river herring and Atlantic herring habitat forecasts and complete an evaluation of the river herring avoidance program.

“The establishment of river herring catch limits creates a need to continue this work not only to preserve river herring, but to provide fishermen with a tool to fully harvest Atlantic herring allocations,” says Bethoney. “Evidence suggests that past efforts have resulted in a reduction of river herring incidental catch, but a thorough evaluation of these results will demonstrate the effectiveness of these tactics.”

School for Marine Science and Technology