To achieve its mission, GEARNET carries out four primary types of work:
1) Uses the structure of 'sectors' to make initial contact with fishermen, and then work with groups of like-minded fishermen (including members of the common pool) to capture/document urgent fisheries research needs, as perceived by the Northeast groundfish fishermen; these research needs may or may not involve gear conservation research and can extend across one or more sectors or interested groups of fishermen.
2) Coordinates workshops to:
- Review the gear focused research needs proposed by individual sectors;
- Finalize a list of high priority gear research;
- Finalize a ‘research gear pool’ wish list;
- Develop a schedule to address these research needs.
3) Facilitates a multi-institutional Gear Conservation Engineering & Demonstration Network Technical Committee (GEARNET TC) to:
- Undertake proof-of-concept gear conservation research projects in partnership with each individual sector and the common pool;
- Demonstrate fishing gear modifications and/or fishing sensor equipment to interested parties;
- Review project outcomes on completion of the sea trials to plan for a Phase Two of research.
4) Shares research findings throughout the region and help fishermen adopt gear designs that have demonstrated their potential to:
- Reduce bycatch of non-target species, and/or
- Improve the energy efficiency of groundfish fishing activities, and/or
- Minimize environmental impact of fishing activities.
Prior to GEARNET, ideas for gear research often began in the office of a gear scientist to be developed into a proposal that might be funded 6 months to a year later. Results might be available well over a year afterwards, and would be presented in a journal article that may never be read by a fisherman.