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Florida marine company signs deal in Mozambique

A Florida commercial fishing gear and supply company received a $1 million contract with the government of Mozambique, which is trying to alter its harvest from the sea.

Hi-Liner Fishing Gear and Tackle was hired to supply monofilament line, hooks and other gear for a fleet of two dozen fishing vessels that port at the coastal African nation.

The supplies are being used to develop the long-line fishing industry there for catches of swordfish and tuna in the Indian Ocean, mainly north of South Africa.

The project has gained attention in Africa. The cost of the 24 fishing vessels, which were built in France and are trawlers and long-liners, is about $270 million, according to a November report at allafrica.com, a news service that tracks African economic development.

As part of the contract, Hi-Liner agreed to send veteran commercial fishing captains from the United States to serve as consultants and advisers as the new sea-fishing industry gets underway there, according to The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.

Hi-Liner hired Mike Carney, a commercial fisherman based in Barnegat Light, N.J., as an adviser and he has been in Maputo for about a month.

“We’ve always been encouraged to spread American technology,” Carney told the paper. “But if you don’t bring the captain with it, it almost always fails. We’re showing them how to make the vessels viable, even though they don’t know how to use them.”

Hi-Liner owner Ed Gaw said the project in Mozambique is a huge deal for his company, which is based in Clay County, Florida, and has an estimated $7 million to $8 million in annual revenue.

Gaw said the use of monofilament line got its start in Florida and was instrumental in the fishing industry known as long-lining. It’s called that because although the line is anchored to a vessel, it is sometimes stretched as far as 3,000 meters. Hooks hang from the line with bait. After running the line, the vessel reels it in with what the hooks have caught.

The technique is considered controversial. Many say the hooks produce bycatch of many species of fish beyond the targets of swordfish and tuna.

Long-lining has been banned along many coastal waters of the southeastern United States since as early as 2001 because fisheries became depleted, according to federal regulators.

Because of federal regulations in the United States, Gaw said the Mozambique project is essential to keeping the long-line portion of his business going. About $40,000 worth of equipment has been shipped to Mozambique and more exporting trips are scheduled in 2015, Gaw said.

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