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UNH-led Fisheries Research Collaborative Calls for New Regional Projects
By David Sims
EOS Science Writer

September 25, 2014

DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire-led Northeast Consortium (NEC) has been selected to lead a new collaborative research initiative on the groundfish stocks and groundfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. NEC will administer $800,000 in research funds from the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and will put out a region-wide request for proposals.

While a broad range of projects will be considered, priority will be given to specific proposals that aim to demonstrate how to access closed areas and increase catch of haddock without impacting cod, yellowtail flounder, and windowpane flounder, as well as to studies that develop gear-engineering solutions to minimize bycatch for flatfish. The request for proposals, which are due Nov. 5, 2014, is here: http://northeastconsortium.org/pdfs/NEC_rfp_2014.pdf

The work of the NEC has become the standard model for bringing commercial fishers and scientists together in an effort to improve fisheries, but a significant reduction in funds for supporting the research needed to identify strategies and solutions for the sustainability of fishery resources in the region has hampered further progress in recent years.

The consortium was created in 1999 to encourage and fund effective, equal partnerships among commercial fishers, scientists, and other stakeholders to engage in collaborative research and monitoring projects in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. At the time, this approach was highly creative, innovative, and risky; New England fisheries stocks were heavily overfished, restrictions were being imposed and economic hardship was on the rise. In such a climate, commercial fishers were extremely reluctant to team up with scientists.

But today, through NEC's work, collaborative partnerships between scientists and fishers are firmly established and represent the most effective way to gather the information required to help rebuild our fishery resources.

However, Glass points out, despite this success, while some stocks are improving, other stocks continue to be in decline. "So this decision is very forward-thinking of the council and I am honored on behalf of the NEC to be chosen to lead this initiative," Glass says.

Said the NEFMC in announcing the new funding initiative, "The NEC's excellent track record over the course of 14 years speaks for itself. It has funded more than 240 collaborative research projects, involving over 525 fishers, 45 fishing industry organizations and businesses, and over 274 scientists from 65 institutions or agencies."

Photograph to download:
http://www.eos.unh.edu/newsimage/nec_lg.jpg

Caption: Photo courtesy of Northeast Consortium.