For the last three years, GMRI has worked with the groundfish industry to pilot a web-based portal and mapping tool to enable an industry-led effort to target or avoid species of interest. During this time, the fleet has faced year-over-year catch reductions of key target species and a harbor porpoise consequence closure in the Gulf of Maine. With new challenges emerging at every turn, the project has focused on incorporating flexibility into the FAST tool to support sector efforts to address these obstacles. Most recently, the tool's functionality was expanded to incorporate data used in management and to include new industry-led efforts around non-allocated species.
In an effort to improve the accessibility of data products produced by NMFS for management purposes, GMRI is working with staff at the Northeast Fishery Science Center in Narragansett, RI, to incorporate hot spot mapping of catch and effort prepared for the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team into the FAST portal. These layers can be viewed in conjunction with self-reported take data, oceanographic information, and management areas. The addition of these data sets affords fishermen and sector managers the opportunity to compare sector data with fleet-wide information.
Accountability measures (AMs) for non-allocated stocks have emerged as an area of concern for several groundfish sectors that could be impacted by a range of consequences if the fleet-wide ACL is exceeded. For example, the AM for Atlantic halibut includes year-round closures for fixed gear on Stellwagen Bank and Platts Banks, as well as gear restrictions for mobile gear on Georges Bank. In an effort to better understand their interactions with halibut at the sector level, the Maine Coast Community Sector and Northeast Fishery Sector III have begun using the FAST tool to track their catch of halibut and build a data set for future analyses.
For more information visit http://fast.gmri.org.