The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and NOAA have announced $4.1 million in grants to modernise fisheries data management systems and support the implementation of fisheries electronic monitoring and reporting projects in 14 states and Puerto Rico. The grants will generate $4.8 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $8.9 million.
The grants were awarded through the Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program (EMR Grant Program), a partnership between NFWF, NOAA, the Walton Family Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation.
“The 16 projects announced today will drive innovation in fisheries monitoring, data collection and data management systems that are critical to sustainable fisheries management,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.
“These grants will enhance the timeliness and quality of data available in fisheries around the United States and will directly benefit the commercial and recreational fishers that rely on these resources.”
The projects supported by the 16 grants are intended to initiate flexible electronic monitoring systems in small vessel fisheries, engage anglers and commercial fishers through outreach on electronic technologies, and support the large-scale implementation of electronic monitoring. Projects will enhance fisheries data collection efforts in federal and state fisheries in Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, as well as Puerto Rico.
“Through NFWF, NOAA Fisheries is able to make this critical investment in the next generation of data, science and partnerships that will expand and improve fisheries data collection through electronic reporting and monitoring programmes,” said NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver.
This year’s grants in the New England groundfish fishery and the Alaska pollock fishery will continue to expand implementation of electronic monitoring and reporting tools to improve data for fishermen and managers. Projects in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and on the West Coast will engage recreational and commercial fishermen to improve existing electronic technology tools.
Additional grants to pilot projects will evaluate electronic technologies for the first time in the Columbia River salmon fishery in Oregon and Washington, the Washington Dungeness crab fishery, and the for-hire Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery in Alabama, Florida and Texas. Grants will also continue trials in the Maine scallop fishery and the small-scale highly migratory species fishery in Puerto Rico.
“Expanding the use of electronic monitoring and reporting is critical for modernising the fishing industry and allowing fishermen and managers to respond to changing fisheries,” said Walton Family Foundation Senior Program Officer Teresa Ish.
The EMR Grant Program was established in 2015 to advance NOAA’s sustainable fisheries goals to partner with fishermen and other stakeholders, state agencies and Fishery Information Networks to integrate technology into fisheries data collection and observations. To date, the programme has awarded more than $21.5 million to 71 projects in US fisheries, and has generated a total conservation impact of $49.1 million through matching contributions. Congress appropriated $3.5 million to NOAA Fisheries for this program in 2020.