FISHERMEN from Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve are to undertake pioneering research as part of a new project.

The exchange means people from the reserve will be able to travel to California to see new technology in action, and report back to colleagues in Dorset.

The system aims to collect information on which parts of a reserve are being overfished, so that fishermen can avoid these areas.

The programme is funded by the new GAP2 Project, which provides an exchange for researchers, fishery stakeholders and policy makers.

It aims to explore how collaboration works by funding candidates to travel on a research trip. Since 2011, the BLUE Marine Foundation – facilitators of the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve – has been working with local fishermen to establish a new blueprint for sustainable conservation.

Foundation project officer Kate West, who also works on the Lyme Bay project, said: “At the moment we have GPS vessel monitoring systems which allow us to see where fisherman are fishing at what time of the day.

“That will be able to tell us which areas of the reserve are being fished more often than others.

“However, the GAP project will allow us to develop a mobile app, so when fishermen go out and fish there are five key species they can log information about.

“We will then have information logged about specifically where fishermen fish and what they catch.”

The idea is that if fishermen catch a lot of overfished species, they will be asked to report it immediately via the new app.

Other fishermen can then avoid the very specific areas with overfished species.

The system means fishermen get to fish for longer for those species they are allowed to catch, and co-operate with one another rather than competing.

Kate added: “The mobile app system is already being used in Morro Bay, California and the GAP2 Project also now means one fisherman, one scientist and one person from the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) will be able to go to California in the autumn to see the system in action.

“The GAP2 project has been set up to try to improve exchanges of information between fishermen and scientists.

“Hopefully, those on the GAP2 exchange can then come back from the trip and inform us about what they have learnt.”

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