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The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Shale Rosen, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland, ME and University of Bergen / Institute of Marine Research, Norway

Evaluating the Use of Midwater Trawls to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Commercial Fishing

Category: Animal Conservation: 2008

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, bottom trawls are used to catch more marine fish than any other fishing technique. These large cone-shaped nets are dragged across the seafloor in a process some have compared to clear-cutting of forests. Bottom trawls significantly disturb and sometimes destroy species biodiversity and habitat for the very species the commercial fishery is targeting. It is estimated that 15 million square kilometers are fished with bottom trawls each year, with some areas being trawled an estimated 400 times per year. Concerns about the long term environmental impact of bottom trawling have led the United Nations to establish a global moratorium on the practice in international waters. Yet, fish remains an important source of protein and livelihood for people around the world.

Mr. Rosen proposes a “fish smarter and leave no trace” approach to this problem. During this project, he will study the use of a midwater trawl designed to “fly” behind the boat, just above the sea floor, to catch commercially important bottom-dwelling species like cod, haddock and Pollock. Using remote-sensing information from sonar, video and acoustic monitoring equipment, he will study fish behavior in and around the midwater trawl to reduce bycatch and evaluate how the trawl behaves in the water. Mr. Rosen believes that midwater trawls hold promise for allowing people to continue harvesting fish while reducing the negative impact on the marine environment.

This grant in animal conservation is sponsored by Knox Bridges.

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