NOAA Fisheries seeking volunteers for Gulf of Mexico shrimp data collection

A photo of shrimp vessels.

NOAA Fisheries wants to modernize the way it collects data on Gulf of Mexico shrimp, and it’s looking for early adopters to test out its new system.

For years, the government relied on an electronic logbook system utilizing a 3G cellular network to collect data, but that ended when the 3G protocol was shut down in 2020. In the years since, the government has required U.S. shrimpers to physically submit memory cards for regulators to pull data from.

NOAA Fisheries is replacing that antiquated arrangement with a new system running on modern cellular networks. Permitted shrimp vessels operating in the Gulf of Mexico will use onboard cellular vessel monitoring system units that transmit positional data directly to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. In addition to giving regulators an understanding of how much time shrimp vessels spend towing nets, the data will help regulators estimate red snapper bycatch and conserve sea turtles.

While NOAA Fisheries has already outfitted five Texas-based shrimp vessels for testing, the agency is looking for more early adopters to test out the new system and technologies.

“We hope the new system will modernize the data collection and allow us to ‘beta test’ a number of devices to inform the Gulf Council on what could eventually become the new standard for shrimp effort data collection,” NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center Deputy Director for Science and Council Services John Walter said.

Funding is available for early adopters to obtain cellular vessel monitoring system units at no cost. The government will pay for installation, maintenance, and two years of cellular service for volunteers. The program is accepting new participants through September 2024 on a first come, first serve basis.

LGL Ecological Research Associates is coordinating the early adopter phase under a contract with the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Orchidflower


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