NMFS Northeast Region
N E W SGloucester, Mass. – NOAA Fisheries and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) have established a cooperative mini-grant program to fund innovative ideas for making commercial fishing gear less likely to entangle large whales. Entanglement is one of the major known causes of serious injury and deaths among large whales, particularly in the Northwest Atlantic.
The focus on making gear whale-safe is part of an overall NOAA Fisheries strategy to reduce risks to large whales. Other measures include managing fishing practices, working with large ship operators, approach rules and guidelines for all mariners, biological research, disentanglement, and improved monitoring and tracking of large whales. NOAA Fisheries is the federal agency with responsibility for large whale protection and recovery.
"We've been working closely with industry in recent years to develop and test safer gear," says Dr. Salvatore Testaverde, NOAA Fisheries coordinator for the program. "These mini-grants will put some much-needed resources into fleshing out more of the ideas that have been floated, and building prototype gear that can then be tested," he says.
The mini-grant program is a cooperative effort between NOAA Fisheries and NFWF and a special project of the foundation's National Whale Conservation Fund. Details on the program and submission guidelines are posted here: http://www.nfwf.org/programs/whale_gear.htm
The Fishing Gear Mini-Grant Program is open to all U.S. citizens and will be offered annually, as funding allows. Awards will be made twice a year, in amounts from $2,000 to $20,000. For 2003, approximately $275,000 are available through the program.
Applications for this year's first round of awards are due by April 1. Applications received after that are eligible for consideration until September 1.
Projects can be submitted in either of two categories. Applicants should submit their project for an Idea Grant, if they intend to develop a process or object, and for a Pilot Grant if the funds will be used to construct a prototype.
NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization established by Congress in 1984. The Foundation operates the National Whale Conservation Fund under the direction of the National Whale Conservation Fund Advisory Council, a panel of conservation leaders and representatives of cooperating entities.