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Research Fishing Gear Program Receives Administratorís Award

award recipients, see caption
Barney Baker, Dave King, Scott McKillip, Sand Borrego, Jim Smart, Allen Harvison, and Scott Harrington (retired) of the Research Fishing Gear Program were recipients of the 2007 NOAA Administratorís Award for their leadership in transferring knowledge about fabricating, maintaining, and managing research fishing gear for assessment surveys.
 

David King, James Smart, Barney Baker, Sand Borrego, Allen Harvison, Scott McKillip, and Scott Harrington (retired) of the AFSCís Research Survey Gear Program received the 2007 NOAA Administratorís Award in recognition of their outstanding contributions to NOAA and NOAA Fisheries in transferring knowledge about fabricating, maintaining, and managing research fishing gear for assessment surveys.

The Research Survey Gear Program manages scientific fishing gear used in support of established fisheries surveys and research, involving a supply of gear that totals over $1.2 million and supports the gear logistics that serves up to 10 individual vessels annually. The programís time-tested competency and craftsmanship facilitate effective design and construction of gear for both established assessment stock surveys and numerous experimental approaches in Alaska and elsewhere. Depending on the condition of the bottom to be surveyed, for example, a standard trawl net may be outfitted with one of three different types of footropes. The main trawl gear consists of the net and footrope, the trawl doors, and the vesselís winch and cable system. These nets may be outfitted with various electronic sensors, such as dataloggers that collect depth, temperature, and global position. For special purpose studies, equipment such as camera sleds or towed video systems may be used to observe trawl performance, fish habitat, and fish behavior during capture by fishing gear.

The Research Fishing Gear Program also advises and assists other West Coast survey groups working for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and various state resource agencies. The program also provides training to the U.S. Coast Guard and state fisheries enforcement groups on fishing gear identification and compliance with NOAA regulations as many are unfamiliar with the specific gear nomenclature and the structural elements critical to enforcing commercial fishing regulations.

Dave King and his team were instrumental in developing the criteria and protocols for standardizing and certifying the design, construction, and repair of trawl survey gear that were formalized in the NOAA Protocols for Groundfish Bottom Trawl Surveys of the Nationís Fisheries Resources in the NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SPO-65 (.pdf, 563MB) in 2004. Subsequently, they developed a training curriculum designed to reinforce the highest level of quality assurance necessary to meet the objectives of scientific sampling in fish stock assessment surveys, forming an agency-wide standard. Members of the Research Survey Gear Program conduct training sessions for NOAA fisheries scientists from across the country, and for charter fishing vessel captains and crews prior to stock assessment cruises. Proper rigging, meticulous repairs, and deployment logistics are explained and demonstrated in order to reinforce the national protocols.

The Research Survey Gear Programís exceptional skill and expertise contributes significantly to achieving NOAAís performance measures related to improving protection, restoration, and management of the nationís living marine resources.

By Guy Fleischer
 

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