New England Gear Innovation Fund
The New England Gear Innovation Fund, a part of the Fisheries Innovation Fund, seeks to support the development and adoption of innovative gear technologies that reduce the risk of lethal or sub-lethal fishing gear entanglement for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (NARW). The program, which is a partnership between NFWF and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focuses on the New England region of the United States.
The New England lobster fishery is the largest and most lucrative post or trap fishery in the United States and an important economic and cultural driver of the region’s coastal communities. However, lobster and other fixed-gear fisheries in New England are responsible for many vertical buoy lines, and these lines represent an entanglement risk for various marine species using the area including the critically endangered NARW. There are fewer than 350 NARW remaining, with less than 70 breeding females. Environmental changes are one reason for this decline, but human-induced threats to the species include entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes.
The New England Gear Innovation Fund will support projects working with New England fishermen and fishing communities to develop, test and implement innovative fishing gears that reduce the risk of lethal or sub-lethal fishing gear entanglement. These solutions will need to be efficient and practical for fishermen, helping to ensure that the NARW and vibrant New England fisheries and fishing communities can co-exist.