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Determination of the impacts of trap fishing on Mid-Atlantic benthic habitats, with emphasis on structure-forming invertebrates

Project Goal

To determine, through underwater observations, if fish and lobster traps set in open ocean waters cause damage to underlying epifauna while being set, retrieved, or dragged.

Geographic Location

Mid-Atlantic Bight

Approach

The Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program and the National Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) collaborated in 2013 to jointly support projects that address coral bycatch. This study, conducted by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, is a result of that collaboration. The studyís methodology, results, and management relevance will be reported in BREPís 2014 and 2015 reports to Congress.

Importance to Management

Black sea bass is a federally managed species that supports important commercial and recreational fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, but data on its Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is limited. Black sea bass fishing occurs almost exclusively in areas of hard bottom with live covering of anemones, corals, and other emergent epifauna. Setting and retrieval of fish traps, as well as movement of traps caused by storms, may damage the underlying epifauna which act as EFH for the fish and lobster species being targeted. The goal of the study is to determine if fish/lobster traps set in open ocean waters cause damage to underlying epifauna while being set, retrieved, or dragged, to inform managers.

Links

2013 BREP grant awards

Fiscal Year 2013 Funding

The Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program contributed $50,000.

Point of Contact

National Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/by_catch/bycatch_BREP.htm