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NOAA Announces Selection of Thirteen Cooperative Research Projects to be Funded through Atlantic Sea Scallop Research-Set Aside Program

Jennifer  Goebel (NOAA)
(978) 281-9175
(978) 290-0203 (Cell)
May 4, 2012

NOAA announces the selection of 13 new cooperative research projects between fishermen and scientists. This marks the 14th anniversary of a unique program, which was initiated by the scallop fishing industry.

In 1998, the scallop industry opted to set aside a portion of their total annual scallop catch in order to promote greater industry involvement in scientific research. Now, each year when the New England Fishery Management Council sets the annual catch limits for the fishing industry, a portion is reserved for cooperative research projects.

"In establishing this program, the scallop industry has shown a lot of initiative and sacrifice because rather than just taking this catch each year and fishing it, they are enabling a subset of the industry to participate in research that benefits the entire group,“said John Hoey, manager, NOAA Fisheries Northeast Co-operative Research Program "Cooperative research is really a win-win for everyone, NOAA and the Council provide a platform for fishermen and researchers to share their experience, knowledge and technical expertise - to learn form each other and work together to further enhance our understanding of local resources."

The 2012 projects include research to survey the scallop resource, better understand and reduce unintended catch of yellowtail flounder, skates and sea turtles in the commercial scallop fishery, improve vessel fuel efficiency, and minimize effects on habitat. This year’s research set-aside is approximately three percent of the total allowable scallop catch.

Approximately 60 vessels will participate in the program this year, and share in the sale proceeds of an estimated 1.2 million pounds of scallops in 2012, worth an estimated $12 million.

The scallop fishery is at the forefront of developing research set-aside programs, which are unique to federal fisheries in the northeast.  Cooperative research programs are also in place for other fisheries including Atlantic herring, monkfish, Atlantic mackerel, black sea bass, bluefish, butterfish, Illex squid, Loligo squid, scup, summer flounder, and tilefish fisheries.  This cooperative research is done in part to support NOAA’s scientific stock assessments.

NOAA’s Northeast Cooperative Research Program manages these activities with funding provided by the sale of set-aside allocations. These allocations are determined by either the New England or Mid-Atlantic fishery management council, depending on the fishery.

“I am glad awards have been made,” said Bill Wells, a boat owner and fishery scallop advisor for the New England Fishery Management Council. “A significant part of the success of this fishery has been the cooperation between the industry and the scientific community to identify what we need to learn, to craft the outline for the research, and to verify that the research has accomplished its objectives.”

Cooperative research projects are selected through a competitive grants process, with priorities established by the councils and input from scientists and fishermen. From 2000 through 2011, 119 research projects were supported by approximately $67.7 million in research-set aside allocations. Vessel owners who took part in the cooperative research received an estimated $47 million for their work.

“It’s important that government agencies support partnerships between scientists and fishermen,” said Ron Smolowitz, owner and operator of Coonamesset Farm, a 20-acre farming and research operation on Cape Cod, who has received research grants this year to work with fishermen to study fishery effects on loggerhead sea turtles, real time bycatch reporting and ways to reduce bycatch. “It is through these efforts that we improve the quality of the science and ensure greater support from the fishing industry for the management decisions based on that science.”

For more on research-set aside programs or other cooperative research efforts, please visit  Click here for a summary of this year’s research projects.

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