The Northeast Groundfish Gear Conservation Engineering and Demonstration Network (GEARNET) was formed in 2011 to address the need for an integrated, network approach to fishery gear conservation engineering, and fisheries research in general. GEARNET focuses on gear conservation engineering efforts that relate to targeting groundfish species of any kind and includes work on all gear types. GEARNET’s mission is to help Northeast groundfish fishermen develop and adopt fishing equipment that:
- Improves efficiency and selectivity,
- Reduces environmental impact, and
- Helps secure a sustainable, profitable groundfish resource and industry for future years.
Through GEARNET, an infrastructure of partnerships has been built that enables network-oriented, sector-specific, fishing gear conservation engineering research. The GEARNET approach is bottom-up and highly collaborative. The findings are being shared with interested parties to promote transfer of knowledge and uptake of effective gear types within the region.
This new approach is based on the idea that fishing gear conservation research can achieve greater successes and more efficient adoption of effective gear modifications if fishermen, gear manufacturers, scientists, and managers work as a network rather than as isolated, project-based industry-research partnerships. As such, the network approach encourages the pooling of resources, expertise and equipment.