The scallop fishing fleet is currently working with SMAST to avoid bycatch of yellowtail flounder in areas of Georges Bank. The real-time communication system is being used in Closed Area I, Closed Area II and the Nantucket Lightship for the 2012 fishing season. Annual catch limits (ACLs) for yellowtail flounder are applied to the scallop fishery for the Southern New England and Georges Bank flounder stocks.
SMAST devised a yellowtail bycatch avoidance system where the scallop fleet voluntarily provides real-time yellowtail catch data through satellite communication. SMAST compiles the fleet information and emails the locations of yellowtail "hotspots" back to the fleet. In 2010 and 2011, only 30% of the yellowtail allocation was harvested from the rotational access fishing areas, keeping the areas open to harvest all of the valuable scallop allocation. For the 2012 fishing year, 243 boats signed up to participate in the program.Over 9,000 tow reports have been submitted to date indicating a shift in yellowtail bycatch distribution in Closed Areas I and II. The bycatch avoidance program has proven to be a critical tool for the scallop fleet to use to avoid yellowtail flounder bcyatch.