July 9, 1999 -- Feds Offer Support for Developing and TEsting Gear Ideas presssummary

NMFS Northeast Region

Money Available for Gear Research

The government is asking fishermen for help

in designing gear less likely to entangle whales

The federal government has money available for fishermen who want to develop and test ideas about making fishing gear safer for whales.

"We have money to support gear testing this summer," said Glenn Salvador, the whale plan coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Maine. "We are interested in weak links, gear marking, gear rigging, modifications of fishing practices and operations anything that can help prevent entanglements," Salvador said.

NMFS has a total of $25,000 available to cover costs fishermen incur while developing and testing gear ideas. Salvador and NMFS gear researchers are also available to work with fishermen, testing gear modifications in the lab or in the water.

Gear entanglement is one of several human-related causes of injury and mortality that threaten whales in New England waters. NMFS is especially concerned about the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale population, which is thought to number fewer than 350 animals. In 1999, there have already been four verified sightings of entangled right whales.

Gear research to reduce the likelihood of entanglement is one element of NMFS's Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. A variety of gear research projects are already underway, but NMFS is seeking help from fishermen who have practical and economical ideas about how to solve the entanglement problem.

Fishermen who have gear ideas to test or suggestions for gear research are urged to contact Glenn Salvador at 207 636-2766 or NMFS gear engineer Al Blott at 401 782-3345.

July 9, 1999


George Liles

PH: (508) 495-2378

or Teri Frady

508 495-2239


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