Groundfish Assessment Program Bottom Trawl Surveys
General information on surveys in Alaska.
What we do
Who is conducting the research?
Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center conduct these bottom trawl surveys with participation from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), and universities. This research is conducted on chartered fishing vessels.
What is the research objective?
The objectives of these surveys are to:
- monitor trends in the marine ecosystem of the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska,
- produce fishery-independent biomass and abundance estimates for commercially important fish and crab species, and
- collect other biological and environmental data for use in ecosystem-based fishery management.
The Groundfish Assessment Program is a research group within NOAA Fisheries.
Publications by our team and collaborators are available online.
There are opportunities to conduct additional scientific projects and non-CORE stock assessment collections. Interested parties are instructed to fill out a Collection Request Form in the early months of the year before the survey. Completed request forms are required for the consideration of all projects and collections. The special projects conducted on the surveys are summarized in our annual data report tech memos.
Annual Data Report Tech Memos
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center uses the NOAA Technical Memorandum series to issue informal scientific and technical publications when complete formal review and editorial processing are not appropriate or feasible. Documents within this series reflect sound professional work and may be referenced in the formal scientific and technical literature. These are available online.
Latest Annual Data Reports:
- Eastern and Northern Bering Sea: Markowitz, E. H., Dawson, E. J., Anderson, C. B., Rohan, S. K., Charriere, N. E., Prohaska, B. K., and Stevenson, D. E. (2023). Results of the 2022 eastern and northern Bering Sea continental shelf bottom trawl survey of groundfish and invertebrate fauna (NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-469; p. 213) U.S. Dep. Commer. https://doi.org/10.25923/rt50-th19
- Eastern and Northern Bering Sea: Markowitz, E. H., Dawson, E. J., Charriere, N. E., Prohaska, B. K., Rohan, S. K., Stevenson, D. E., and Britt, L. L. (2022). Results of the 2021 eastern and northern Bering Sea continental shelf bottom trawl survey of groundfish and invertebrate fauna (NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-F/SPO-452; p. 227). U.S. Dep. Commer. https://doi.org/10.25923/g1ny-y360
- Gulf of Alaska: Von Szalay, P. G., and Raring, N. W. (2018). Data report: 2017 Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl survey (NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-374). U.S. Dep. Commer. http://doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-AFSC-374
- Aleutian Islands: Von Szalay, P. G., and Raring, N. W. (2020). Data report: 2018 Aleutian Islands bottom trawl survey (NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-409). U.S. Dep. Commer. https://doi.org/10.25923/qe5v-fz70
- Bering Sea Slope: Hoff, G. R. (2016). Results of the 2016 eastern Bering Sea upper continental slope survey of groundfishes and invertebrate resources (NOAA Tech. Memo. NOAA-AFSC-339). U.S. Dep. Commer. https://doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-AFSC-339
Each year, the Groundfish Assessment Program compiles it’s survey findings for communities around Alaska. Please note: This document is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views or official position of the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Not to be cited without permission from the authors.
Northern Bering Sea Groundfish and Crab Trawl Survey Highlights
- 2022 and Strait Science seminar series
- 2021 and Strait Science seminar series
- 2019 and Strait Science seminar series
North Pacific Groundfish Plan Team
Each year, the survey teams present their findings to the North Pacific Groundfish Plan Team. Find those presentations, recordings, and attachments on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council website.
Publicly Accessible Survey Data: Fisheries One Stop Shop
The final, validated survey data are publicly accessible soon after surveys are completed on the Fisheries One Stop Shop (FOSS) platform. This data includes catch, haul, and environmental data collected at each station. On the FOSS data platform, users can interactively select, view, and download data. Descriptive documentation and user-examples are available on the metadata page.
NOAA Fisheries Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal (DisMAP)
Data from this and other fisheries-independent surveys are used in the NOAA Fisheries Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal (DisMAP), which provides easy access to information to track and understand distributions of marine species in U.S. Marine Ecosystems.
Open Data and Tools
Please visit the Groundfish Assessment Program’s GitHub organization for the latest on tools, analyses, and data products developed by our group. A few are highlighted below.
- akgfmaps R package: bottom trawl survey maps layers and plotting examples
- coldpool R package: cold pool area and temperature data products for the Bering Sea
- akfishcondition R package: groundfish morphometric condition indicators for fish in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska
Data that are not available from our other standard data products can be requested by submitting an issue to us on our GitHub repository or by emailing our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also accept suggestions for changes to our standard data products. We will respond to your request as soon as possible.
Each year, the Groundfish Assessment Program produces research briefs, or research plans, of their upcoming surveys and research.
- 2023 Eastern Bering Sea Bottom Trawl Survey Research Brief
- 2023 Northern Bering Sea Bottom Trawl Survey Research Brief
Gulf of Alaska
Temperature and Survey Progress Maps
Maps of near real-time temperatures from each of our bottom trawl surveys are posted each business day of the survey. Water temperature affects many species' spawning times, access to food, growth rates, and overall range. Collecting temperature data helps better understand species’ habitats and the larger ecosystem.
The Species and Gear Code book is a listing of codes used for fish and invertebrates identified in RACE Division surveys.
Groundfish bottom trawl survey protocols are documented in NOAA protocols for groundfish bottom trawl surveys of the nation’s fishery resources.
Our data are used in many annual publications, including but not limited to the list below:
- Alaska Stock Assessments
- North Pacific Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Reports
- Groundfish Economic Status Reports for the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
- Alaska Marine Ecosystem Status Report Database
- Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring Survey Reports
- Alaska Fisheries Life History Database
- Essential Fish Habitat Research Plan in Alaska
We would like to thank the many communities of Alaska and their members who have helped contribute to this body of work. The knowledge, experiences, and insights have been instrumental in expanding the scope of our science and knowledge to encompass the many issues that face this important ecosystem. We appreciate feedback from those residing in the region that are willing to share their insights and participation in an open dialog about how we can improve our collective knowledge of the ecosystem and the region.