Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Awards announced by NOAA, NEFMC
The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) recently announced its awards for the Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program for the 2019-2020 cycle, addressing resource studies, dredge efficiencies, bycatch reduction, fishery impacts on loggerhead turtles, and potential offshore energy impacts on early lifecycle scallop transport.
Thirteen projects will be supported by the program that centers on scallop research priorities identified by the NEFMC, which ranked resource surveys as the highest priority.
Collectively, these awards are expected to generate more than USD 14 million (EUR 12.5 million), according to the council. This includes an estimated USD 2.8 million (EUR 2.5 million) to fund the research and USD 11.4 million (EUR 10.2 million) to compensate industry partners who harvest set-aside quota. No federal money is involved, making this an entirely industry-funded program, the NEFMC said.
The NEFMC approved research priorities last summer for the 2019-2020 projects announced this month. The council will develop a new list at next month’s meeting for 2020-2021 projects. The organization established the scallop RSA Program to address research questions that support management of the scallop resource. Each year during the specification-setting process, the council “sets aside” 1.25 million pounds of scallops to carry out RSA projects.
The work is a collaborative effort between fishermen and scientists.
Research results directly contribute to stock assessments and help the council better manage the fishery overall, it explained. While the council sets the annual research priorities, NOAA Fisheries manages the RSA competition and administers the program.
The NEFMC, one of eight regional councils established by federal legislation in 1976, is charged with conserving and managing fishery resources from three to 200 miles off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The NEFMC’s authority extends to the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and southern New England, and overlaps with the Mid-Atlantic Council for some species in that region. Major ports include Portland, Maine; Gloucester and New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Point Judith, Rhode Island.