NOAA Fisheries is looking for volunteers to update shrimp data collection in the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA Fisheries is looking for volunteers to update shrimp data collection in the Gulf of Mexico

GCM staff report

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Fisheries and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission are currently seeking volunteers to participate in an updated data collection for commercial shrimp efforts. Participants will be early adopters of the new monitoring system installed on their vessels at no cost. The primary goal of this initiative is to improve the quality and efficiency of data collection associated with the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fleet.

Overview and benefits of the new system:

  • The new system involves installing cellular Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units on vessels holding shrimp permits in the Gulf of Mexico. These devices will transmit data directly to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center via cellular networks, improving the accuracy and efficiency of estimating shrimp fishing effort data.
  • Shrimp effort data has historically been recorded through a cellular electronic log system on selected vessels that transmits position and vessel speed data using a 3G cellular network to NOAA fisheries scientists. Since 3G cellular technology was turned off in December 2020, fishermen have actually sent memory cards to NOAA Fisheries to retrieve data. The new devices aim to simplify data transfer.
  • The new devices provide direct benefits to the shrimp industry, allowing vessel owners to access applications that provide near real-time monitoring of the locations of their vessel(s) when in cellular range, which can be saved for later comparison.



Data collected from devices:

  • The new devices record timed vessel positions every 10 minutes to determine the time it takes to tow nets versus steaming to fishing grounds, and convert this information into an estimate of effort (2 days to tow). These effort data contribute directly to stock assessments for better management of shrimp and other fisheries.
  • Location information helps scientists identify critical shrimp areas for consideration in marine spatial planning, with the aim of avoiding conflicts with other ocean industries such as wind energy and aquaculture.



How to register:

The new devices are available free of charge to Gulf of Mexico shrimp permit holders. The program covers the cost of a limited number of new units, installation, maintenance, and two years of cellular service for the device.

The program is seeking volunteers through September 30, 2024, and support is available through the Early Adopter Program on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Authority contracted LGL Ecological Research Associates, Inc. To coordinate the early adoption phase of this effort modernization project.

Early adopters must have a permit to shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. Interested parties should contact LGL Environmental Research Assistant Nathan Putman at nputman@lgl.com Or (205) 218-5276.




Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Why does this change happen?

Shrimp effort data has historically been recorded through a cellular electronic record system using a 3G cellular network, which was shut down in December 2020.

How did this happen?

Funds have been appropriated by Congress for NOAA Fisheries, working with the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and LGL Ecological Research Associates to test multiple devices on federally permitted commercial shrimp vessels.




What are the improvements/differences between the new and existing systems?

The new system transfers data automatically, improving the manual removal of memory cards to retrieve data.

Do shrimp fishing vessels need to install a 3G electronic logbook and cellular vessel management system?

It is not necessary to have a 3G electronic record to volunteer for a new device.

How much do new cellular VMS systems cost for non-early adopters?




Standard expenses for systems vary. The cost of a new device, including installation and transportation fees, can reach more than $3,000. There is also an annual cellular service fee.

The costs of the new device, installation, maintenance and cellular service will be covered for two years for early adopters.

When will other shrimp vessels be required to install these new units?

There are currently no requirements, and shrimp vessel owners must stay current with changes to federal shrimp regulations.

Where can I find more information?

More information is available by visiting NOAA’s website at www.fisheries.noaa.gov. You can also contact Alan Lowther for NOAA Shrimp Effort data coordination at (305) 209-7586, alan.lowther@noaa.govor Nathan Putman as Program Manager at (979) 846-7000 (office), nputman@lgl.com.

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