Review of Project Years
The Deepwater Horizon Oceanic Fish Restoration Project launched as a pilot in 2017. That first year enabled continued engagement with vessel owners, seafood dealers and other stakeholders while NFWF and NOAA determined adjustments and enhancements to be made for the full rollout of the project in 2018.
Since 2017, members of the fishing industry have not only been active partners in the implementation and adaptive management of the project, but their engagement means they are also part of the solution to help restore fish resources in the Gulf of Mexico. Participation in the project has grown as fishermen help to secure the sustainability of this important resource and the fisheries that depend upon it.
In the 2017 project year, seven vessel owners from Louisiana participated in a four-month pelagic longline repose from March 1 through June 30. Participants fished using greenstick gear for a collective total of 280 sea-days.
In 2018 through 2020, the repose period took place from January 1 through June 30. In the 2018 project year, seven vessel owners from Louisiana and three vessel owners from Florida participated in the repose. In the 2019 project year, eight vessel owners from Louisiana and two vessel owners from Florida participated in the repose. In the 2020 project year, repose participants included seven vessel owners from Louisiana and five vessel owners from Florida.
Participants used greenstick, buoy, and deep drop rod and reel gear for almost 500 sea-days in 2018, more than 500 sea-days in 2019 and more than 650 sea-days in 2020.
Data show clear bycatch benefits. The amount of bycatch species caught using alternative gear was minimal, and many of those that were caught were released alive.
Participants have provided positive feedback about the project.
“I found it very rewarding to be a part of the research and experiment with the new gear, as well as to be a part of something that could help restore fish in the Gulf,” one participant said.
Another participant stated, “I am very invested in helping make alternative gear more effective for future generations of fishermen.”
NFWF and NOAA are excited about the future of this project based on the successful outcomes during the previous project years.