Piloting a Novel Dredge Type to Reduce Bycatch and Improve Fuel efficiency in the Southern New England Scallop Fishery


general description:

This project seeks to pilot a new type of dredge in the Southern New England limited access general category (LACG) and limited access (LA) sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) fisheries to reduce bycatch, minimize habitat impacts, and improve fuel efficiency. The “N-Viro Dredge” was designed in Scotland in response to pressure from government and environmental groups to reduce bycatch and sea floor impacts in the king scallop (Pecten maximus) and queen scallop (Aequipecten opercularis) fisheries. The N-Viro dredge has proven to be a successful tool in helping to mitigate the effects of the commercial scallop fleet on bycatch and benthic habitat and scallop F/Vs have incrementally switched from their Newhaven style dredges to N-Viro dredges as they realize the economic benefits to their businesses and the scallop resources.

project goals:

  1. Installation and operation of the N-Viro dredge on LAGC and LA scallop F/Vs to assess commercial feasibility.

  2. Paired tows to quantify the scallop catch efficiency, bycatch rates, and fuel usage of the N-Viro dredge in comparison to traditional New Bedford style, Provincetown style, and turtle-deflector dredges.

Project team:

  • Christopher Glass, PhD, Executive Director, CFRF

  • Johnathan Evanilla, Research Associate, CFRF

  • Timothy Sheehan, Owner, Gulf of Maine, Inc.

  • Michael Marchetti, Owner/Operator, F/V Mister G & F/V Captain Robert, Point Judith, RI

  • Christopher Roebuck, Owner/Operator, F/V Karen Elizabeth & F/V Yankee Pride, Point Judith, RI

  • Peter Spong, Owner/Operator, F/V Brooke C, Point Judith, RI

  • Joeseph Baker, Owner/Operator, F/V Harvest Moon, Point Judith, RI

Participant Vessels:

  • F/V Karen Elizabeth

  • F/V Brooke C

  • F/V Harvest Moon

  • F/V Mister G

data collection strategies:

The N-Viro dredge will be fished and compared with both New Bedford style and turtle deflector dredges. Experimental fishing will be conducted on four bottom types: boulder, cobble, sand and clay. Bycatch reduction and scallop catch rates will be determined and compared. Fuel Usage and RPMs during fishing on LAGC vessels will be monitored to compare the fuel efficiency of each gear type.

Feedback will be gathered on the commercial performance of the N-Viro dredge from the captain and crew of the participant vessels. Topics to be covered will include: dredge handling, crew safety, dredge performance, catch handling, desired modifications, and commercial viability.

Media CoveRage:

  • “2019-2020 Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Awards Announced” - NOAA Fisheries, May 2019