Researcher testing devices to measure, identify halibut bycatch

The chute camera device. (Photo courtesy Craig Rose)
The chute camera device. (Photo courtesy Craig Rose)

A researcher is developing a device that could help make monitoring halibut bycatch more efficient.

Craig Rose from FishNext Research is in town for Kodiak’s fisheries trade show, ComFish, and will talk about the ongoing project: a chute camera and its accompanying software.

“You slide fish through and it automatically triggers a picture, sends that to a computer that then analyzes that image,” he said. “Our main use has been to –as a primary test issue – is to put it for measuring halibut bycatch from trawlers.”

Rose said the device identifies and measures halibut one by one.

He explains a few years ago the North Pacific Fishery Management Council was considering implementing individual quotas for Gulf of Alaska trawlers.

That didn’t become a reality, and he says the chute camera is unlikely to see much use in Kodiak.

But the camera chute could be helpful in other areas.

He said they may apply the device to Bering Sea catcher-processors with individual quotas.

It would help automate the deck sorting process when observers can’t be there to monitor it.

Sorting fish above deck instead of below increases the likelihood that halibut remain alive, which is a goal for a prohibited species like halibut.

Rose said they’re still testing the chutes in the Bering Sea, but should wrap up in Kodiak by the end of spring.

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