The nets that fishermen use to catch longfin squid also ensnare butterfish. And butterfish populations are very low. In fact, in 2004 a stock assessment workshop determined that butterfish were officially overfished (read that phrase aloud--it's fun!).Strict limits on butterfish bycatch keep squid fishers from catching as many squid as they'd like. If only they knew exactly where butterfish were on any given day, they could fish for squid in butterfish-free zones and skip the bycatch problem.
As reported by the University of Delaware, science and technology could make it possible:
“We were taking real-time observations from satellites and high-frequency radar and sending it to fishermen to guide their fishing efforts,” Oliver said. “I think it may have been the first time anything has been done like that.” . . . They used the [satellite and radar] data to create color overlays on Google Earth maps that looked similar to weather maps, except the color blue indicated poor zones for butterfish to live and orange marked areas with prime butterfish conditions. The scientists then beamed their daily butterfish forecast map by satellite phone to fisherman Chris Roebuck and NMFS’s Manderson aboard a squid boat near the edge of the continental shelf.In this pilot study, the fishermen were actually looking for butterfish, not squid, to confirm the accuracy of the butterfish weather maps. So the technique hasn't yet been used to keep squid boats away from butterfish, but early results indicate it could work.
Good news if you're a butterfish; not so much if you're a squid.