Through support from NOAA Fisheries' Northeast Cooperative Research Program (NCRP), GMRI’s Fishing Technical Assistance Program and Ocean Data Products group developed a near real-time spatial/temporal Fishing Area Selectivity Tool (FAST) in partnership with the groundfish industry. FAST is a web-based geospatial mapping and data-sharing application designed to help fishermen reduce interaction with specific of interest through better communication and access to more information. Data sets include historic observer data and fisherman-reported observations from allocated and non-allocated stocks of groundfish as well as protected species.
The FAST tool allows near real-time catch data to be presented with historical catch data, oceanographic information, and management information. The overall goal is to provide a tool to industry that can help reduce bycatch on species the entire fleet has a vested interest in avoiding. In New England, bycatch can lead to time/area closures of prime fishing grounds and gear restrictions, severely restricting the fishing industry’s ability to fully access the ACL of allocated stocks. Work is ongoing to improve the application, and the fleet-wide approach brings new opportunities and challenges to bycatch avoidance.