SMAST Yellowtail Flounder Bycatch Avoidance Program

he scallop fishing fleet is working with SMAST to avoid bycatch of yellowtail flounder in areas of Georges Bank. The real-time communication system is used in Closed Area I, Closed Area II and the Nantucket Lightship for the 2012 fishing season. Annual Catch Limits for yellowtail flounder are applied to the scallop fishery for the Southern New England and Georges Bank flounder stocks. Exceeding the Annual Catch Limits can result in costly time/area closures of lucrative scallop fishing grounds.

SMAST devised a yellowtail bycatch avoidance system where the scallop fleet voluntarily provides real-time yellowtail catch data through satellite communication, then SMAST compiles the fleet information and emails the locations of yellowtail "hotspots" back to the fleet. In 2010 and 2011, only 30% of the yellowtail allocation was harvested from the rotational access fishing areas, keeping the areas open to harvest all of the valuable scallop allocation. The bycatch avoidance program has proven to be a critial tool for the fishermen to use to avoid the catch of flounder.  Visit the How to Participate in Yellowtail Bycatch Avoidance page for more information about the program and to find out how to participate. 

CONTACT: Cate O'Keefe - (508) 910-6340,