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.

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.”

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