Since 2009, the Coonamessett Farm Foundation has been developing an industry based electronic data collection system. CFF uses funding from the scallop Research Set-Aside Program so that the fishing industry can have its own independent source of scientific and fishing data.
The project is now in field testing, and NOAA and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission have provided additional funding to test a similar system that would transmit required data to the government electronically, replacing the paper system and its associated time lags.
Below is the project's summary and goals. Current funding will pay to install 24 systems on scallop vessels fishing out of mid-Atlantic ports and, if there are extra, some additional ports.
Scallopers interested in participating should e-mail Ron Smalowitz with your name, vessel ID information, port and personal contact information.
In order to better monitor Allowable Catch Limits (ACL) of sea scallops and Sub-ACLs of bycatch species allocated to the limited access fleet, CFF has worked with partners to develop a real time electronic reporting system. One objective of the system is to have the U.S. scallop fleet regularly report their tow data, bycatch, and scallop catch electronically to a database accessible by the Fisheries Survival Fund (an industry organization), the NOAA Northeast Regional Office and NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The data would act as an electronic log book and would be available to the entire fleet in order to alert fishermen of hot-spot areas of high yellowtail flounder to scallop meat catch ratios.
This information would enable fishermen to make informed decisions regarding where to fish in order to avoid the yellowtail flounder bycatch that may trigger accountability measures. Success with yellowtail reporting may be the first step in using this two-way communication and data system for dynamic area action programs for species such as loggerhead turtles, windowpane, and winter flounder. This project will continue the refinement of the software and introduce broadband technology to allow cheaper and faster data transfer between vessels and shore.