GEARNET contributes directly to broader efforts to improve and support the fishing industry's capacity to adapt to a changing world. The project’s bottom-up approach has made a positive impression with fishermen who have traditionally steered clear of collaborative research. By initiating projects on the dock and supporting ideas that begin on the water, GEARNET has tapped the potential of broad industry involvement and engagement.
Thirty-five GEARNET projects have been developed since 2011. The projects, all of which were proposed by groundfish fishermen, address a variety of factors, such as:
- Effects of mesh size on size and species selectivity;
- Effects of changes in net design to species composition;
- Effects of fine-twine mesh on fuel consumption and species selectivity;
- Improving profitability in groundfish fisheries;
- Feasibility of a trap fishery for groundfish species.
Results yielded many lessons learned and significant benefits to the groundfishing industry — cost savings, reduced bycatch and environmental impact, and enhanced collaboration and profitability. Themes and topics included:
- Fuel efficiency: Semi-pelagic doors; alternative net materials; fuel flow metering systems
- Gillnet fishing efficiency: Raised gillnets to avoid cod and target alternative species; LED pingers to reduce harbor porpoise takes; approaches to understanding and reducing seal depredation
- Reduced seabed impact: Low-impact semi-pelagic (LISP) trawl; semi‐pelagic doors and semi-pelagic groundcables modified for use in offshore and inshore fishing
- Trawl selectivity: Designs to target haddock; modified codend diameter and shape, rigid window to decrease flatfish catch
- Alternative gears: Floating cod pots; electronic rod‐and‐reel pollock fishing; break-bag codend that closes off the codend at a set tension level
- Industry training: Three DVD’s were produced from a flume tank workshop on selective fishing and energy conservation and made available to industry
- Collaborative research discussions: What works and doesn’t work in efforts to help fishermen adapt to change and be successful?