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Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on March 1st, 2013 in Announcements, Seafood Education, Sustainability

TrawlerThe Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) Gulf shrimp fisheries improvement project (FIP) has been supported with RSVP Program funds now for almost a year, working on retrofitting the trawl fleet on the Northwest coast of Mexico with bycatch-reduction devices and training the ship’s crews in their use. Additionally, this fisheries improvement project is engaging with the Mexican government to increase enforcement and regulations pertaining to the gulf shrimp fishery.

The Gulf fleet, which provides 70 percent of its pacific blue, whiteleg, and yellowleg shrimp catch to the United States market, has an unfortunately high rate of unintended catch. Industrial bottom trawlers indiscriminately net non-target species, which in this region includes endangered sea turtles, seahorses, and the totoaba – an endemic (found only in the Gulf of California) sea bass species. SFP estimates that to date tens of thousands of tons of bycatch has been discarded in this fishery, spanning 600 non-target species.

In August and September of 2012, the SFP held a total of 8 training workshops in Mazatlan, Topolobampo, Guaymas, and Puerto Peñasco for members of the gulf shrimp trawl fleet. The workshops were split into two parts: the first focused on the basics of bycatch-reduction technology and the changes being made to the Mexican Official Standard regulating body. The second part of the workshop focused on the specifics of retrofitting gear and training in the use of the new equipment. In total, 364 participants attended, representing 279 vessels; this figure indicates that 40% of the total gulf shrimp trawler fleet has been outfitted with turtle and fish exclusion devices and trained in their usage – a huge step forward!

BIG thanks to the SFP and all the great work they do! Learn more about the Gulf Shrimp FIP on their website.

In other news, we received a quarterly update from Heal the Bay’s “Key to the Sea” program. Heal the Bay provides an opportunity for Los Angeles area youth to experience marine education through partnerships with area aquariums. At this point in the 2012-2013 school year, the program has reached 2,527 students and 108 teachers through 51 different field trips. Keep up the good work!

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