The Groundfish Assessment Program uses a range of standard and specialized trawl gear and equipment during its assessment surveys. The RACE Division's Survey Gear and Support Program builds and maintains a large inventory of standard fishing gear, including nets, footropes, and longlines. The Poly Nor'eastern trawl (shown in the photo at right), one of the standard trawl nets used in groundfish surveys, can be outfitted with one of three different types of footropes, depending on the condition of the bottom to be surveyed. The main trawl gear components include the net and footrope combination, the trawl doors, and the ship's winch and cable system. Go to the Field Gear video clips to view footage of these gear components.
As indicated in the picture at left, trawl nets are also outfitted with various electronic sensors, such as net spread and height sensors, fishing dimension (area) sensors, bottom contact sensors, and dataloggers that collect depth, temperature, and global position measurements. This equipment is attached to specific parts of the trawl prior to each tow, and collectively records the various data types while allowing scientists to monitor gear performance during each tow event. The sensors are removed at the end of each tow, and recorded data is downloaded to shipboard computers for processing.
In addition to standard gear, RACE scientists also use a variety of specialized equipment for special purpose studies. Camera sleds, towed video systems, and manned submersibles (such as the Delta Submersible) are all used to observe trawl performance, fish habitat, and fish and crab behavior during capture by fishing gear.