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Commercial Scalloper Provides Gear Training for GARFO Staff

On October 4 and 5, approximately 25 GARFO staff will escape their desks and emails to learn about the scallop fishery from people who know it well, New Bedford scallop fishermen. GARFO staff will get an up-close look at the design and operation of scallop fishing gear, including how the different components of the dredge work, how the gear is deployed, and how catch is processed.

Participants will also learn about dredge bycatch reduction research, current issues in scallop fishery management, and other topics such as an emerging scallop aquaculture initiative. They will then go to sea aboard the F/V Sharon K to watch a scallop dredge in action. GARFO staff will visit the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Management Area and observe fishing practices. Fishing will be limited to demonstration tows and no scallops caught will be retained for sale.

(Photo credit: Coonamessett Farm Foundation)

The Atlantic Sea Scallop fishery is a complicated fishery, with two kinds of permits (Limited Access and Limited Access General Category), rotating closed areas that vary year to year, and several different quota systems that limit the number of trips, the amount of catch, or an individual quota. The rotational program has been very successful, with the New England Fishery Management Council closing areas with large concentrations of fast-growing scallops, and opening them when the scallops are suitable for harvest. The Atlantic sea scallop fishery is one of the most lucrative fisheries in the United States, making New Bedford the top U.S. port in value of commercial fishery landings for 17 straight years. New Bedford brought in $327 million from commercial fisheries, with 77 percent of that attributed to the scallop fishery.  

“This workshop is designed to educate staff on fishing gear designs used in our regional fisheries, and to learn from those who know the gear the best - commercial fishermen,” says Ryan Silva, GARFO’s cooperative research coordinator. “We invite staff from our fisheries management specialists to our statisticians and lawyers to learn about the fisheries we manage by experiencing them first hand.”

This gear workshop is the latest in a series of workshops coordinated by Gabby Bradt, a fisheries specialist at New Hampshire Sea Grant, and Silva. Previous workshops included introductions to bottom trawl nets, gillnets, and lobster traps.