delware environmental institute

Bycatch-22: University scientists aiding fishermen in butterfish conundrum

Bycatch-22: University scientists aiding fishermen in butterfish conundrum

Butterfish may sound delicious, but local fishermen would rather keep them out of their nets. The small, silvery fish are protected by fishing limits yet frequently surface in tows when fishermen are trawling for squid. Too much of this unintended butterfish “bycatch” can get a fishery shut down by regulators for the year – before the squid allocation is caught.

The University of Delaware’s Matthew Oliver, assistant professor of oceanography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), is helping to address the problem. Combining satellite data with radar information on ocean currents, he and others are developing a model to predict where butterfish populations are most likely to be on any given day. Their habitat model could assist fishermen in avoiding butterfish while fishing for squid.