PORTLAND — U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins say the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded $127,649 to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

NOAA says the money will be used to assess a new technology to record what’s scooped up by mid-water trawler fishery, opening the door to a method to better manage the herring population, which is critical to the lobstermen because the fish is used as bait.

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NOAA says the grant will allow the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to test the effectiveness of a camera system placed inside a fishing trawl to quantify and record the so-called “bycatch.”

Snowe and Collins say it’s critical at a time of record low lobster prices to develop long-term solutions “to ensure a vibrant lobster industry for years to come.”