PIER researchers are working with several partners on the development and trial of alternative deep-set fishing methods for swordfish off the California coast. The work combines recent movement studies with deep-set designs that minimize the amount of time hooks spend above the thermocline.
The first phase of this work focused on designing a gear type that could help augment the local harpoon fishery. The team set out to design a low-impact method that could be used to target swordfish at depth during the day. Working with the NOAA region, the PIER team designed and tested several methods and eventually settled upon a gear that is now being referred to as deep-set buoy gear, or DSBG. DSBG has been shown to be highly selective for swordfish and other marketable species. The trial gear is now in in exempted status through the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. With exempted status, the team was able to equip five cooperative fishers with DSBG in the 2015-2017 seasons. The EFP stage of this project entails collecting landings data and validating the past several years of field research. DSBG has been supported by several independent partners including the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Program, the NOAA BREP Program, The Pew Charitable Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Santa Monica Seafood’s Fish-Wise Program.
The PIER team is also working on the development of alternative deep-set configurations that can be used to supplement the drift gillnet fishery. It is our goal to identify a deep-set gear type that provides similar landings with reduced potential for bycatch. As with the DSBG research plan, the team will first design and test the gear prior to cooperative fisher involvement. The work will continue to collaborate with several partners including the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA's West Coast Region, The Nature Conservancy and the Pew Foundation.