What We Do
Our Main Objectives
- Study the interactions between the environment and marine biota.
- Promote sustainable wild-caught and cultivated fisheries.
- Conserve protected species in the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem, nationally and internationally.
- Promote sustainable use of habitat.
Our Major Research Areas
- Ecosystem processes and environmental conditions for production of harvestable algae, shellfish and finfish.
- Processes linking spatial and temporal patterns in climate with regional and local responses of species and their habitats.
- Positive and negative influences of human activities on ecosystem function and services.
We accomplish our research through the coordination and design of field surveys and laboratory investigations conducted by our five branches.
Better understanding of these processes enables us to:
- Develop technologies and recommendations to promote the growth of a highly productive aquaculture industry.
- Support assessment and management of protected and harvested species.
- Support the development of Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management in the Northeast Region.
The Aquaculture Sustainability Branch evaluates current and proposed marine aquaculture practices for technical effectiveness, environmental compatibility, and sustained commercial success. We develop methods and technologies to improve production of cultivated seafood, supporting the expansion of domestic aquaculture. We apply multiple scientific disciplines to high-priority projects in a team-based approach supplemented by collaborative relationships locally, nationally, and internationally.
Aquaculture Systems & Ecology
The Aquaculture Systems and Ecology Branch conducts research to improve our understanding of the ecology of estuarine, coastal and off-shore waters, and evaluates the interactions between these habitats and aquaculture practices. We support the development of technologies for culturing commercially and recreationally important species, provide aquaculture science to industry partners and policy makers, and work closely with industry partners.
The Fisheries Ecology Branch uses a multi-disciplinary approach to evaluate the environmental conditions that affect recruitment, distribution, growth and survival of fisheries on the Northeast continental shelf. We investigate processes such as reproduction, fertilization, development, growth, metabolic rate, trophic relations, and survival in relation to factors such as temperature, carbonate chemistry, dissolved oxygen, contaminants and other stressors. We develop methodologies, provide ecological information to managers and stakeholders, and establish an understanding of the dynamics of living marine resources, including their susceptibility and resilience to current and future environmental challenges.
The Habitat Ecology Branch conducts field and laboratory research and provides information to stakeholders regarding fisheries habitats and their functions in maintaining sustainable fisheries in the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem in relation to anthropogenic alterations and climate change. We conduct research on the status of living marine resource populations, determining the functional value of habitats and how habitat loss, degradation, restoration, and mitigation affect ecosystem services including aquaculture, productivity and diversity. Research tools include sampling cruises, database development, analysis and modeling, and chemical analysis related to the status, health, distribution, and movements of fisheries stocks and protected species. Research includes multi-disciplinary and multi-agency expertise, and encourages collaborations with managers and academic researchers as well as with industry partners.
Oceans & Climate
The Oceans and Climate Branch analyzes data collected on the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem to understand how the components of the ecosystem influence the distribution, abundance, and productivity of living marine resources. We conduct shelf-wide shipboard surveys throughout the year on seasonal variations in plankton, water column temperature and salinity, and ocean chemistry. The observations contribute to a comprehensive climate-quality database that indexes changes in ecosystem conditions on seasonal and decadal timescales. These surveys are also used as a platform for process-oriented research to better understand the interactions between oceanography and population dynamics. We conduct our research using an Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management approach aimed at (1) developing understanding, tools and databases for addressing climate, ecosystem and habitat issues in stock assessments; (2) gauging ocean acidification; (3) developing advanced technologies for ecosystem monitoring; and (4) estimating the impact of a changing climate on fisheries, aquaculture and protected species.
Thomas Noji, Ph.D.
Tom is a marine ecologist. After completing undergraduate studies at Earlham College in Indiana in 1976, he worked and studied in Germany and received his Ph.D. in biological oceanography at the Institute of Oceanography at the University of Kiel in 1989. Currently he spends much of his work time promoting Center and Division science activities through personnel and budget planning, and pursuing partnerships with academic and industry partners to increase the nation’s sustainable seafood production.