Szymanski, Dave Chosid
Arne Carr and Luis Ribas
observe a model of an experimental trawl net in the Memorial
Institute flume tank.
The Conservation Engineering Program develops and tests modifications
to commercial fishing gear and innovative designs that minimize
impacts on non-target species and habitat. Reducing the take
of non-target species, or unwanted catches, in fishing gear
helps to keep fish stocks healthy, improves efficiency and
profitability, and promotes responsible fishing.
Most of our research, whether with lobster pots, fish pots,
longline hooks, trawl nets, gillnets, scallop dredges, or
other gear, is cooperative. We rely on commercial fishermen
to identify areas of concern, to help design modifications,
to test gear on the water, and to encourage wider use of effective
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We use several cutting-edge techniques to study and develop
fishing gears, such as a variety of underwater cameras, camera
housings, and net sensors. Cameras are used to observe the
behavior of fish when encountering fishing gear - differences
in reactions by different species can be used to refine nets
to encourage escapement. Our most sophisticated system allows
us to mount two cameras on a trawl net simultaneously, which
send live images back to a vessel's wheelhouse allowing captain,
crew, and scientists to see what's happening underwater while
a net is being fished. One camera can even be rotated to follow
individual fish, or to look at different parts of the net.
Biologists checking over
the remote operating vehicle before deployment.
Another gear development technique is the use of live fish
held in raceways. Using underwater cameras, we recorded the
behavior of cod and yellowtail flounder that were offered
artificial baits. The results from this effort will be used
to develop a selective bait for longliners. A third technique
for designing fishing gear is the use of models in tanks.
Flume tanks allow scientists and fishermen to manipulate scale
models to refine a gear design that can then be tested at
sea. Perhaps the most sophisticated facility is operated by
the Fisheries and Memorial Institute in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
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We conduct research mostly in Massachusetts,
but our work takes us to many places outside the Bay State.
Much of our equipment was obtained from outside
One of our proudest accomplishments was the
establishment of an Exempted Whiting Fishery off Provincetown,
Massachusetts. This fishery was made possible through the
development of a net (the raised footrope trawl) that catches
whiting but does not catch lobsters or flatfish. For this
work, and for other achievements, the Conservation Engineering
Program's leader, Arne Carr was named a NOAA Environmental
Hero for 2000.
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Video Clips (MPG format)