NOAA to award $2.5 million in grants as part of bycatch reduction initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking proposals for its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program, an initiative promoting fishing operations from ensuring non-targeted species aren’t included in their respective catches.

Federal officials specifically state the program supports the development of technological solutions and fishing practice changes “designed to minimize bycatch of fish.”

Marine life directly affected by bycatch includes deep-sea corals, marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles, sponges and sturgeons.

A total of $2.5 million will be available to applicants, with specific awards ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 each.

Grants would likely be awarded to applicants who device techniques to reduce interactions between fishing gears and corals or sponges, perform research to inform commercial and recreational fisheries of conservation engineering, improve the understanding and reduction of post-release and mortality events, and enhance fishing practices through gear modifications or avoidance programs.

NOAA began awarding grants through the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program about 10 years ago, with 102 projects funded along the way. Between 13 and 18 projects were funded each year.

Pre-proposals are due Jan. 31; full proposals must be submitted by March 30.

Last year’s grant recipients included Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER) and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. PIER was awarded grant funds to develop radio and satellite smart buoy technologies to help reduce bycatch. The Pacific States Marine Fisheries, meanwhile, used NOAA funds, in part, to reduce eulachon and dark blotched rockfish bycatch in the ocean shrimp trawl fishery.

NOAA Fisheries photo

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