Partnerships for a Common Purpose: Cooperative Fisheries Research and Management

Making a Difference from Working Cooperatively: Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc.

Judy L. Jamison

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569858.ch10

Through the use of vessel observers in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic, the Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc. (Foundation) has been able to provide an incredible amount of scientific data that has been used by industry and fishery managers. It is important to note that indepth vessel observer programs were not in existence prior to the 1990s in our region. The foundation took great strides to pioneer cooperative observer programs and has been extremely successful in achieving a high degree of collaboration within our fisheries. Through these efforts, we have been able to achieve trust and close working relationships with members of the scientific and management communities as well as fishermen.

One of the first research programs that involved foundation observers involved catch characterization of shrimp trawl harvest. The foundation worked with scientists and fisheries managers to develop a scientific sampling protocol to be employed aboard commercial trawlers. Cooperators from the shrimp industry were recruited to take observers aboard their vessels. Through this work, the most comprehensive data base of trawl bycatch that was ever created was developed through our observer program. Through data that were collected from thousands of tows, it was determined that overall bycatch from southeast shrimp trawlers was not at the magnitude projected by many at the time. A commonly used example was that 10 lbs of bycatch resulted from each pound of shrimp landed. Depending upon areas in the Southeast, the ratios were clearly shown to be closer to 3:1 or 4:1. This is not to say that bycatch is not a problem in the shrimp fishery, but our work did provide a more accurate assessment of trawl bycatch.

Our cooperative research efforts with turtle excluder devices (TEDs) highlight very significant work in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. Through cooperative efforts, more effective TEDs have been developed and demonstrated. The sea turtle issue has presented the most contentious problem ever encountered in southeast fisheries. Collaborative work with the shrimp industry has been of great benefit in addressing this problem. Tangible results from these efforts are being reflected in an exponential increase in nesting female Atlantic Kemps Ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys kempii.