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HomeNewsArchivesNOAA Awards $115, 820 to St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association for Study

NOAA Awards $115, 820 to St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association for Study

The St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association is the recipient of a $115,820 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which will fund a study of fish behavior in traps, according to a press release from Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen.

“As a longtime proponent of our fishing community, I was pleased to learn that the St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association was named a recipient of this competitive grant award,” said Congresswoman Christensen. “I have long called for the fishing associations to have the ability to take science and research into their own hands so that we are one step closer to ensuring that V.I.-based data is used to inform the management process.”
The study, titled “Engineering Bycatch Reduction in West Indian Fish Traps,” will be conducted in two phases, according to NOAA. Phase one will involve studying fish behavior in traps and while traps are being hauled to the surface. The traps will be seeded to determine the best placement for effective escape. Seeded traps will be experimentally fished with different designs of escape vents to measure the ability to release by catch species and retain target species. Escape vent designs will be assessed using diver observations and video during fishing and hauling.
In phase two, after selecting the optimal escape vent designs, selected escape vents will be installed in strings of traps for field testing by the fishermen who are members of the association. This testing will take place in two sub phases, utilizing different fishermen fishing in different areas of the shelf.
Differences in catch and bycatch rates will be compared, and once effectiveness has been demonstrated, the St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association will then implement the selected design within its membership and recommend the design to the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council for full implementation in fish traps in Puerto Rico’s and Virgin Islands’ waters. This phase will also include final data analysis and report preparation.
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