NOAA Fisheries announces funding for 2024 bycatch reduction projects

AK 2023 winners: UW - reducing halibut bycatch in P-cod bottom trawl fishery; IPHC - minimizing whale takes in longline fisheries.

by | September 29, 2023

Nearly $2.3 million available nationwide; two Alaska projects rec’d funding for 2023

NOAA’s Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) provides funding to those looking for creative solutions to fishery bycatch challenges.


2024 Funding Opportunity Open

NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of about $2.3 million for collaborative bycatch reduction projects. We invite non-federal researchers working on the development of improved fishing practices and innovative gear technologies that reduce bycatch to apply and encourages
applicants to include and demonstrate principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
We’re looking for proactive, meaningful, and equitable community engagement in the identification, design, and/or implementation of proposed projects.

Click here for the 2024 Grant Application

NOAA Fisheries has awarded $2.5 million to partners around the country to support 14 innovative bycatch reduction research projects through its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

Click here to see all 2023 Funded Projects

Bycatch is catch that fishermen do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep. Bycatch of various species—fish, marine mammals, or turtles—can have significant biological, economic, and social impacts. Preventing and reducing bycatch is a shared goal of fisheries managers, the fishing industry, and the environmental community.

“Working side-by-side with fishermen on their boats we’ve developed solutions to some of the top bycatch challenges facing our nation’s fisheries.”
LW asks: Ummm, what solutions have been developed for Alaska?”

Noaa fisheries

Examples of past regional projects include:

  • Researchers on the West Coast showed that a dual sorting, flexible grid system called Flexigrid reduces under-sized sablefish bycatch by more than 45%. It does this while maintaining catch of adult sablefish and other target fish species.
  • In the Southeast, use of larger circle hooks is reducing bycatch of under-sized red grouper by more than 70 percent. Smaller circle hooks are providing greater selectivity at catching red snapper

Alaska projects receiving funding for 2023 projects

  • N. Pacific cod trawl fishing Credit: NOAA Fisheries
  • University of Washington: $221,309 for “Reducing Pacific halibut bycatch in the Pacific cod bottom trawl fishery.”
  • This project will develop a bycatch reduction device performance indicator to evaluate and compare devices used in the Bering Sea Pacific cod bottom trawl fishery. Researchers will evaluate the effect of artificial light placed at the trawl mouth on Pacific halibut and Pacific cod catch through field trials and compare current and previous bycatch reduction devices to the use of artificial light. Results of this research will be used to make recommendations to fisheries researchers, managers, and the fishing industry.
  • International Pacific Halibut Commission: $199,870 for “Full-scale testing of devices to minimize whale depredation in longline fisheries.”
  • Orcas and longliner Credit: High Country News
  • This project proposes a catch comparison trial using traditional longline gear with and without catch protection devices developed by a previously BREP-funded project in the presence of depredators. Devices include an underwater shuttle designed to remove catch from the hooks near the bottom and securely transport the catch to the surface inside the device. Another is an underwater shroud designed to slide over a cluster of captured fish, and to cover/hide them as they are brought to the surface. The project would expand testing of developed catch protection gear to a full catch comparison trial in the presence of potential depredators. Researchers will fully assess the relative performance and safety profile of the experimental gear compared to standard longline fishing gear.
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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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