In a joint initiative, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have revealed grants totaling nearly $18.3 million. This funding is allocated to support the development and implementation of innovative fishing gear designed to minimize the risk of entanglement for North Atlantic right whales. The grants aim to provide crucial resources to assist fishermen in adapting to evolving conditions in New England coastal communities and fisheries, particularly within the lobster industry. With matching contributions generating over $1.4 million, the total conservation impact of these grants is estimated at $19.7 million.
The 18 grants announced today will propel promising technologies that eliminate the reliance on vertical buoy and gear marking lines in the water. Moreover, they ensure close collaboration with fishermen to develop and refine affordable technology seamlessly integrated into fishery operations, fostering safe and efficient use. These advancements in fishing gear and related innovations will equip fishermen and resource managers with a range of tools to address the diverse needs of New England fisheries.
Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF, emphasizes, "These awards will make significant contributions to the conservation of the North Atlantic right whale and help ensure the coexistence of this species, and others, and vibrant New England fisheries into the future."
Administered through the New England Gear Innovation Fund (NEGIF), a partnership between NFWF and NOAA, with additional support from Shell USA, these grants build on the success of the Fisheries Innovation Fund (FIF). FIF, operational since 2010, has actively engaged fishermen and communities in sustainable fisheries implementation. The NEGIF continues this legacy of partnerships to promote a sustainable future for right whales and fisheries.
Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, affirms, "This grant program and collaboration with NFWF will ensure funding can quickly support an array of projects and accelerate progress towards ropeless technologies to reduce entanglement in fishing gear."
These grants address various challenges and lay the groundwork for large-scale deployment of innovative fishing gear, complementing existing efforts by NOAA, its partners, and others addressing threats to North Atlantic right whales.
Shell USA expresses pride in supporting NFWF grantees' work to advance technology benefiting the U.S. fishing ecosystem while mitigating the risk of gear entanglement for North Atlantic right whales.
For a complete list of the 2023 grants through the NEGIF, visit link here.
Source: NFWF (2023). NFWF Announces Nearly $18.3 Million in Grants from the New England Gear Innovation Fund. https://www.nfwf.org/media-center/press-releases/nfwf-announces-nearly-18-3-million-grants-new-england-gear-innovation-fund
Picture: lobster fishing boat from NFWF.