Development of an Extended Link Apron: A Broad Range Tool for Bycatch Reduction

Project Title: Development of an Extended Link Apron: A Broad Range Tool for Bycatch Reduction

Year: 2017

Principle Investigators: Farrell Davis, Ricky Alexander and Liese Siemann

Client: NOAA/NMFS Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program

The goal of this project is to further develop a gear design utilizing two links to increase the inter-ring spacing in the dredge apron. The extended-link configuration encourages the mechanical sorting of pre-recruit scallops and flatfish. Previously, CFF tested a configuration that increased both the vertical and horizontal inter-ring space by orienting the extensions in both directions, creating a Bi-directional Extended Link Apron (BELA). While the BELA performed comparably to a traditional single-link configuration in the rotational access areas with high densities of scallops, for areas with lower densities the performance was mediocre. For this reason, the BELA may only be suitable for the rotational access areas or in areas of where surveys indicate high densities of pre-recruit scallops. In order to develop a dredge bag that can be applied across a broader range of scallop fishing grounds, we propose testing a configuration with the extensions oriented vertically only, resulting in the Unidirectional Extended Link Apron (UELA). Based on data from a single commercial recording trip, we hypothesize that the UELA configuration should have comparable scallop catches across areas of both and high and low densities while still reducing the impact of fishing effort on pre-recruit scallops and flatfish bycatch.