Scallopers use electronic reporting to collect ‘real-time’ catch data

EAST FALMOUTH, MA – Fifteen scallop vessels are now using a simple computer software program to collect and transmit “real-time” scallop catch and yellowtail flounder bycatch information back to shore.

p18-SNE-bycatch-mapThe information is aggregated daily by a second software program and is automatically transmitted back to participating boats in the form of color-coded maps that help captains make judgment calls about where to fish to avoid unwanted bycatch.

“It’s very easy to use,” said Ed Lee, who captains two scallop vessels, the Regulus and the Furious.  “If computers don’t bother you, it’s just ‘click, click, click,’ and that’s it.  Very simple.”

The program currently is configured to be as minimally intrusive to fishing operations as possible, asking scallopers to plug in only two pieces of information – the number of bushels of scallops harvested per tow and the number of individual yellowtail flounder encountered.

But it has enormous potential.  The software was designed so that captains, researchers, and program administrators can easily turn “on” a myriad of other “fields” to collect a wealth of data about everything from scallop shell heights to water temperature to fish fork lengths if they’re interested in doing so.

“Someday we may want to collect information about scallop meat weights so that fishermen can avoid areas with low meat yields,” said Dan Ward of Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF), which is overseeing the project.  “The program is flexible enough to accommodate that.  It’s really a comprehensive data collection program that’s designed to benefit the industry in a number of ways.”  …


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

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