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Louisiana, Texas Sea Grants Helping Develop Better BRDs

As part of a larger National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) restoration project, Louisiana Sea Grant and Texas Sea Grant are collaborating on a three-year, $2.48 million project to find and develop better bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) for the commercial shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The project begins this year.

“The primary goal is to reduce commercial shrimp trawl fishing pressure on finfish populations to restore fish affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” said Julie Lively, Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) and LSU AgCenter fisheries specialist, and the lead for the LSG side of the project. “Another goal is to identify improved BRD technologies that are more efficient for the shrimp industry with improved shrimp retention, cost and use.”

Engaging shrimp industry members during implementation of the project is one of the first tasks. “Utilizing industry knowledge and expertise is critical to the project’s success. And we plan to create a stakeholder working group to provide input throughout the life of the project,” said Lively.

Another early task will have NOAA searching the globe to find different types of BRDs used elsewhere in the world that could possibly work in the Gulf. Shrimpers across the Gulf also will be surveyed for their BRD ideas, asked about current BRD usage and their willingness to accept and use new equipment.

NOAA is expected to test prospective new BRDs in Florida beginning in the summer. Later in the year, and possibly through 2023, shrimpers across the Gulf can apply to test gear and provide feedback and recommendations. The final phase of the project calls for creating a Gulf-wide roll-out plan for new BRDs, which includes an incentives strategy, and then monitoring BRD use to ensure they’re having a positive impact on finfish populations.

Throughout the project, a variety of BRD trainings will be offered to shrimpers. And training materials will be made available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.