2014 in Review - Tackling Current Challenges
From electronic video monitoring to new conch bait options, the Fishermen's Alliance has worked hard to address current fisheries management challenges with innovative and lasting solutions.
This year, the Fishermen’s Alliance and Cape Cod fishermen enrolled in the Fixed Gear Sector have worked closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a comprehensive electronic video monitoring program that can replace and improve upon the current system of putting human observers on boats. Knowing more fully what is brought on board fishing vessels is a critical component of sustainable fisheries management.
If we hope to successfully rebuild fish populations, such as our namesake cod, we need better information. A successful video monitoring program can provide a safer, cost-effective, less obtrusive, and potentially more accurate system of real-time catch and effort information. Given the groundswell of national support for electronic monitoring and the ongoing economic crisis in the New England cod fishery, there is the need for this solution now more than ever. Over the next year, the Fixed Gear Sector will continue to work with the federal government to realize the vision of getting video monitoring onboard groundfish vessels in the 2016 fishing year.
A New Dog in Town
This September, the Fishermen’s Alliance received a federal Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to rapidly increase domestic consumer demand for the Atlantic spiny dogfish. The main goal of this project is to leverage a robust dogfish population to expand the regional fishing economy. The key to the success of this project is collaboration. We are working with several regional and global partners to provide domestic consumers with abundant sources of fresh dogfish from Cape Cod.
This project has three phases: (1) Product Testing, in which we are working with University of New England to gather complete nutritional information about dogfish; (2) Product Development, in which we are working with Marder Trawling, Inc. and High Liner Foods, two Massachusetts processors, to develop new dogfish products that will interest consumers; and (3) Product Marketing, in which we will work with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to create domestic demand for fresh, delicious dogfish.
We are excited to continue our work on this project throughout 2015, particularly after the resounding success of our related work with The Family Pantry of Cape Cod. Our fishermen donated nearly 3,000 pounds of dogfish to feed needy families on Cape Cod.
Change is in the Pot
The Fishermen's Alliance works to protect our ocean ecosystem and the future of our community's fishing businesses. This summer, in an effort to diversify bait options for the conch fishery and reduce dependence on horseshoe crab for bait, the Fishermen’s Alliance worked with local fishermen to test out a new option. The “ecobait”, developed by Michael LaVecchia of LaMonica Fine Foods, is made up of primarily sea clam bellies, but also includes a reduced number of horseshoe crabs. Two Cape Cod conch fishermen tested out the ecobait on several trips in late July and early August with mixed results. We're excited to be on the cutting edge of horseshoe crab conservation efforts while supporting our conch fleet. We plan to continue this pilot project in 2015 to verify results.