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Fish Harvesting Research Exploring Environmentally Friendly Bottom Trawls

19 February 2013

CANADA - The Marine Institute’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources has received C$50,000 in financial assistance from the Provincial Government for year three of a project to develop environmentally friendly bottom trawls to reduce the impact of fishing on the seabed.

“Protecting our ocean ecosystem is an important initiative for our government,” said Derrick Dalley, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “New fishing methods and innovative technologies in recent years have reduced contact and disturbance of the seabed. This is important as consumers are much more aware of the environmental impact of fishing methods and consider ecologically safe seafood harvesting to be critical in their purchasing decisions. Through this project and past initiatives, our government has worked diligently to protect the ocean environment. Further minimising bottom contact and disturbance of the ocean seabed is an important aspect of our work.”

The Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources is using a combination of numerical modeling, flume tank testing, and full-scale sea trials to develop innovative harvesting systems specifically suited for shrimp and groundfish fisheries. The work is part of a five year initiative in collaboration with industry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“With over 300 trawling vessels in the province, this project is highly relevant to our fishing industry and continuous research and development on new responsible harvesting techniques is one of the keys to long-term industry sustainability,” said Paul Winger, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources.

“We need to change with the times and become more sustainable in harvesting our resources. Through our partnership with the Provincial Government, we are making progress in developing innovative technologies that in time will lessen the ecological impact of bottom trawling for the long-term sustainability of the entire seafood industry.”

This initiative is funded through the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Programme. Budget 2012: People and Prosperity allocated C$2.2 million for the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program, as part of a three-year, C$6.6 million total investment. Complementary to this programme, the Provincial Government also released a Coastal and Oceans Management Strategy and Policy Framework in 2011.

The strategy has provided for approximately 30 projects to date, with each initiative assisting in the development of a long-term vision for planning and management, conservation and sustainable use of the province’s coastal and ocean areas and resources. This strategy can be found at www.fishaq.gov.nl.ca/publications/.

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