Due to the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting changes in ship schedules, and the unique challenges those are creating for NOAA Fisheries, we are cancelling the Southeast Fisheries Science Centers’ 2020 Spring/Summer Reef Fish Video Survey.
This was a difficult decision for the agency as we strive to meet our core mission responsibilities while balancing the realities and impacts of the current health crisis.
Since March, we have been rigorously analyzing various options for conducting surveys this year and are taking a survey-by-survey, risk-based approach. After much deliberation, we determined that we will not be able to move forward with these surveys while effectively minimizing risk and meeting core survey objectives.
The Spring/Summer Reef Fish Video Survey is run out of NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center. It covers the entire continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico region from Brownsville, Texas, to Dry Tortugas, Florida. This survey provides an index of the relative abundances of fish species associated with topographic features (e.g reefs, banks, and ledges) located on the continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. The survey samples roughly 400 sites per year and focuses on hard bottom/reef habitats targeting reef fish identified in Fisheries Management Plans.
NOAA Fisheries is continuing to assess the status of other surveys in all our regions. We are working through numerous survey scenarios relative to community pandemic safeguards and safe work practices so that we maximize the science available for fisheries management in this challenging year.