Center for Coastal Studies Receives Grant for Gillnet Bycatch Study

PROVINCETOWN – The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown has received grant funding to engage the local fishing community in research and conservation.

The nearly $120,000 award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will be used to study bycatch and depredation in sink gillnet fisheries in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

The research by fishermen and scientists from the center and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will allow for a better understanding of the interactions between predators such as dogfish and seals with the gillnet fisheries.

The study will obtain video documentation of the fish species that seals and other predators consume to better predict foraging behavior near fishing vessels. The footage gathered and the study’s results will help commercial fishermen understand possible conflicts between gear and predators, including depredation and entanglement, by informing potential modifications to fishing practices.

“TheNationalMarineSanctuary Foundation believes in building partnerships across industries to solve conservation challenges. Working with the Center for Coastal Studies, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and local fishermen, this project will help us learn more about how to avoid conflicts between fishing gear and protected species,” said Kris Sarri, President and CEO of theNationalMarineSanctuary Foundation.

“Conducting this research in Stellwagen BankNationalMarineSanctuary demonstrates how ourmarinesanctuaries are living laboratories full of opportunities for scientific discovery, conservation and sustainable business to maintain a healthy ocean.”

Using cameras fixed directly to fishing nets and an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), fishermen and researchers will collect underwater imagery and behavioral data from predators that might interact with the fishery. Together they hope to analyze footage and images to better understand depredation, in which animals prey upon fish caught in fishing gear, which can lead to lost catches for fishermen and entanglement or injury for the animals.

“With fishermen and CCS/WHOI researchers working together to understand these interactions through a transparent and inclusive process, this is a great example of how unique collaborations have the potential to educate and inform both the working partners and policy makers and resource managers,” said Richard Delaney, president of the Center for Coastal Studies.

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