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CFRF: 10 years of fishermen-driven research

KINGSTON, RI – In 2004, the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) started out with a handful of fishermen and not a lot of funding.  But it also began with the premise that people in the fishing industry needed to begin doing their own research.

Phil Ruhle Jr. of Point Judith, RI aboard his Sea Breeze Too, working on CFRF’s drop chain conservation gear engineering project to reduce flounder bycatch in small-mesh fisheries. (CFRF photo)

Phil Ruhle Jr. of Point Judith, RI aboard his Sea Breeze Too, working on CFRF’s drop chain conservation gear engineering project to reduce flounder bycatch in small-mesh fisheries. (CFRF photo)

Partnering at first with University of Rhode Island Sea Grant’s Laura Skobe and Dave Beutel, Point Judith fishermen Phil Ruhle Sr., Phil Ruhle Jr., and Jim O’Grady, along with Jon Knight, owner of Superior Trawl, worked on a net design that would reduce cod and flounder bycatch in the haddock fishery.  Knowing that cod and flounder drop down while haddock swim up in the net, the group created an 8′ front panel with 6″ mesh on the top of the net and in the codend to allow the unwanted fish to escape.

The net became known as the “Eliminator,” an award winning conservation design that excluded over 50% of the bycatch from haddock trawls.

“It gave us a taste for victory and success and what was possible for the community.  We were very proud of the project,” said Chris Brown, a founding member of CFRF, owner/operator of the F/V Proud Mary, and chairman of the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Association and Rhode Island Fluke Conservation Cooperative.

The CFRF founders invested the catch proceeds
from gear trials with their share of groundfish disaster relief funds distributed at the time into a nonprofit foundation to get it started, recalled founding member Fred Mattera, a former fisherman and president of the safety training company NESTCo…

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Read the rest and much, much more in the October issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

Read online immediately and download for future reference.

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