Flatfish Biology Conference
Convened by NOAA Fisheries and first held in 1986, the Flatfish Biology Conference provides researchers with an opportunity to present their findings on all aspects of flatfish research.
The 17th Flatfish Biology Conference was held on November 15 and 16, 2022, at Water's Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, Connecticut.
Thank you for a great conference!
Please check out our agenda (pdf, 7pg).
The Flatfish Biology Conference strives to provide a forum where a diverse community of scientists, researchers, and students come together to present their findings and share knowledge in a supportive and inclusive environment.
Please read our Guidelines for Conduct (pdf, 2pg).
Please review the COVID Guidelines for Waters Edge.
Please reach out to the Conference co-chairs if you have any questions. Their emails are linked below.
- Steve Dwyer, co-chair, Dominion Energy, Millstone Environmental Lab
- Elizabeth Fairchild, co-chair, University of New Hampshire
- Renee Mercaldo-Allen, co-chair, NOAA Fisheries, NEFSC, Milford Lab
- Larry Alade, NOAA Fisheries, NEFSC, Woods Hole Lab
- Chris Chambers, NOAA Fisheries, NEFSC, James J Howard Lab
- Mary Carla Curran, Savannah State University
- David Davis, HDR Engineering
- Thomas Munroe, NOAA Fisheries, Office of Science and Technology
- Sandy Sutherland, NOAA Fisheries, NEFSC, Woods Hole Lab
- Anthony Calabrese (Emeritus)
Abstract and Presentation Instructions
An LCD projector with an IBM-compatible computer will be available for oral presentations using Powerpoint. Presentations can be loaded from a CD or a USB thumb drive. Speakers are limited to a total of 15 minutes for their presentation and 5 minutes for questions. If using embedded video in your presentation, please test that it runs smoothly prior to speaking at the conference.
The conference has been held at the Water's Edge in Westbrook, Connecticut, since 2002.
Abstract Booklets from Past Meetings
- Abstracts from the Sixteenth Flatfish Biology Conference (2018)
- Abstracts from the Fifteenth Flatfish Biology Conference (2016)
- Abstracts from the Fourteenth Flatfish Biology Conference (2014)
- Abstracts from the Thirteenth Flatfish Biology Conference (2012)
- Abstracts from the Twelfth Flatfish Biology Conference (2010)
- Abstracts from the Eleventh Flatfish Biology Conference (2008)
- Abstracts from the Tenth Flatfish Biology Conference (2006)
- Abstracts from the Ninth Flatfish Biology Conference (2004)
- Collected Programs & Abstracts of the Flatfish Biology Conferences, 1986–2002
A History of the Flatfish Biology Conference
The genesis of the Flatfish Conferences was a March 1986 memo from Tony Calabrese, then Chief of the Experimental Biology Branch at the National Marine Fisheries Service-Milford Laboratory to Mike Sissenwine, then Chief of the Fisheries Ecology Division and Vaughan Anthony, then Chief of the Conservation and Utilization Division of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Given the number of people in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions that had been working on this species at the time, Tony suggested that the agency host a winter flounder biology workshop. The idea was later discussed among federal and state attendees at an April stock assessment workshop and Tony received positive feedback. The first workshop Steering Committee was then formed, consisting of Tony, Alan Beck of the EPA-Narragansett Laboratory, Ambrose Jearld and Steve Clark of the Woods Hole Laboratory, Ann Studholme of the Sandy Hook Laboratory, Arnie Howe of Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Eric Smith of Connecticut DEP Marine Fisheries, and Chris Powell, representing Rhode Island Fish and Wildlife.
In early December 1986, the first conference, or workshop as it was then called, was held in Mystic, CT, and was devoted solely to winter flounder. Sponsored by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, all aspects of its biology were topics for discussion, with the exception of stock assessments covered in other National Marine Fisheries Service meetings. Tony and Allen Peterson, then Director of the Northeast Fisheries Center, introduced the concept of these meetings. Welcoming us on behalf of the center in subsequent conferences were Bob Murchelano, Mike Sissenwine, John Boreman, and Frank Almeida. The first workshop started with summary statements whereby participants briefly communicated the status of their winter flounder studies. Following this were more formal presentations of papers and posters. In all, 16 papers and 14 posters were scheduled.
After a 3-year break, the meeting resumed on December 5 and 6, 1989. Changes to the Steering Committee included the addition of Don Danila of Millstone Environmental Laboratory while Penny Howell replaced Eric Smith. Northeast Utilities-Millstone Power Station (now Dominion Energy) and the Electric Power Research Institute joined NEFSC as co-sponsors of this particular meeting. Summary statements by participants again led off the 1989 meeting, followed by an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission update presented by Penny Howell. Nineteen papers and 14 posters were presented, all devoted to winter flounder. Throughout the years, the number of posters appears to have been limited by the number of easels retained by the Rhode Island Fish & Wildlife Department and kindly supplied by Chris Powell. In addition, the tradition of holding the poster presentations around the hotel pool along with food and drink was established.
The next conference was two years later on December 3 and 4, 1991. Jay Burnett replaced Steve Clark on the Steering Committee. Eighteen papers and three poster presentations were on the agenda.
In 1994, after another 3-year hiatus, Tony and the conference organizers decided to include biological research devoted to any of the flatfishes. This led to a doubling of the number of papers to 35 along with 13 posters. The geographical extent of the participants also increased.
During the first three conferences, most authors and attendees were from the northeast United States along with a few hardy travelers from eastern Canada. Subsequently, we had greater national and international participation. Counting all previous meetings, presenters have come from 22 US states and the District of Columbia, 8 Canadian provinces, and 9 other countries in the Americas, Europe, and Africa.
The flatfish conference maintained its momentum with 28 papers and 10 posters given on December 3 and 4, 1996. In 1998, the conference held on December 1 and 2 had a schedule that included 39 papers and 16 posters. As many may remember, the infamous Best Western construction project rattled eardrums and interrupted the session, but the presentations were moved on the fly from the hotel’s conference room into the restaurant to continue the presentations.
Due to the success of the flatfish meetings, in 1999, Tony, along with many of the steering committee members, initiated a one-time conference on biology of the tautog and cunner. Chaired by Eric Schultz of the University of Connecticut, there was a strong response with 24 papers and 10 posters in the program.
2000 saw continued interest in flatfishes with 31 papers and 6 posters presented. Ann Studholme, Arnie Howe, and Alan Beck left the Steering Committee after many years of distinguished service and Renee Mercaldo-Allen from Milford Laboratory joined. The Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society also joined as a sponsor with donations used to help lower registration fees of student attendees. The conference has always attracted student participants and we hope we’ve supplied a supportive and nurturing environment for many a first scientific presentation.
In 2002, Mark Dixon from Milford Laboratory, who consistently provided support at these conferences, particularly with A/V issues, joined the Steering Committee. The conference venue was moved from Mystic to Westbrook and Renee replaced Tony as Steering Committee chair. The 2002 meeting was held on December 10 and 11, a bit later than the other conferences, and 22 papers and 15 posters were presented.
In 2004, Deb Pacileo replaced Penny Howell as the CT DEEP representative and Sandy Sutherland took over for Jay Burnett of Woods Hole. For the first time, the conference abstract booklet was published as a Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document. With the conference scheduled on the first two days of December, the meeting went back up to a full 2-day schedule, with 35 papers and 20 posters on the agenda.
Tom Munroe joined the Steering Committee for the 2006 conference. This “20th Anniversary” meeting was held November 29 and 30 with 26 papers and 8 posters on the schedule. A number of participants attended all ten meetings over the past two decades. The Steering committee recognized Milford and JJ Howard (a.k.a. Sandy Hook) Laboratories for their many contributions over the years. Only a few individuals have authored or co-authored papers or posters in all or nearly all of the ten meetings through that date. The winner of the Bronze Medal was Ken Able, who was listed as an author or co-author in 8 of the 10 conferences held at the time. Ken only missed having a presentation in the very first workshop and in the 2006 meeting. Chris Chambers received notice as the Silver Medal award for presenting at all meetings except 2004. All alone in winning the Gold Medal by having a paper and/or poster at all ten of the conferences held through 2006 was Larry Renfro of the University of Connecticut. Larry and Chris were recognized and received a small token of appreciation from the Steering Committee for supporting this series of meetings.
The 11th conference, held on December 3 and 4, 2008, included 31 talks and 13 posters listed in the agenda. Abstracts from the first 10 conferences were published as a NEFSC Reference Document so that the content of these early meetings would now be accessible to the wider scientific community.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center convened the 12th Flatfish Biology Conference on December 1 and 2, 2010 with 38 speakers and 17 poster presentations listed on the program. The Dominion Millstone Power Station and the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society continued their long-time sponsorship, encouraging student participation through a reduced registration fee.
The 13th Flatfish Biology Conference was held on December 4 and 5, 2012 in Westbrook CT. Thirty-seven speakers and 20 poster presentations included international participants from China and Norway. Dominion and SNEC-AFS maintained their strong sponsorship of the conference. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center convened the conference and published the program booklet as a reference document. Elizabeth Fairchild joined the 10-member steering committee.
Once again, Westbrook CT was the site for the 14th Flatfish Biology Conference held on December 3 and 4, 2014. Twenty-four talks and 8 posters were presented. The Steering Committee welcomed two new members, Chris Chambers from the James J. Howard Marine Laboratory and Steve Dwyer from Dominion’s Millstone Power Station. Sponsorship from the Dominion Foundation reduced overall conference costs and a donation from the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society supported student participation. Presentations included international representation from China and Gambia, West Africa. The conference was dedicated to the memory of long-time participant and contributor Grace Klein-MacPhee.
The 15th Flatfish Biology Conference, celebrating 30 Years was held on December 6 and 7 at Water’s Edge in Westbrook. The agenda included 26 talks and 10 poster presentations. The conference was supported by long-time sponsor Dominion Foundation, whose kind donation defrayed registration costs. A contribution from the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries reduced the registration fee for students. The conference welcomed a new sponsor, HDR Engineering, who made a donation in support of the poster session. Don Danila and Ambrose Jearld stepped down from the Steering Committee and Doug Clarke of HDR joined the 10-member group. Chris Powell, a founding member of the committee, was recognized for 30 years of service to the conference.
On December 4 and 5, 2018, the 16th Flatfish Biology Conference was convened at Water’s Edge in Westbrook CT. The program featured 26 talks and 6 poster presentations. Conference costs were defrayed through generous support from Dominion Energy and HDR Engineering. A donation from Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society enabled students to pay a reduced registration fee. David Davis of HDR Engineering joined the Steering Committee, replacing Douglas Clarke. As always, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center convened the conference with opening remarks from Dr. Jon Hare and the conference program and abstracts were published as a NEFSC Reference Document.
After a four-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, flatfish researchers once again assembled at the 17th Flatfish Biology Conference at Water’s Edge in Westbrook, CT on November 15 and 16, 2022. The conference program of 23 speakers and 7 posters included five presenters from Canada and a participant from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Nicole Cabana, Deputy Director of the NEFSC convened the conference and gave opening remarks. Tom Munroe made a keynote presentation on “Everything you wanted to know about flatfish but were afraid to ask.” The Steering Committee awarded Chris Chambers a commemorative hat in recognition of attending all but one of the previous flatfish conferences. Generous donations from Dominion Foundation, HDR Engineering, and the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society reduced registration fees for participants and students. Larry Alade of the NEFSC and Mary Carla Curran of Savannah State University became new members of the Steering Committee. Steve Dwyer of Dominion Energy, Millstone Environmental Laboratory and Elizabeth Fairchild from the University of New Hampshire joined Renee Mercaldo-Allen of the NEFSC’s Milford Laboratory as conference co-chairs. Renee Mercaldo-Allen, who served as the sole chair since 2002, was recognized for her dedication to the Flatfish Biology Conference. Following the conference, the proceedings were published as a Science Center Reference Document.
Ode to Our Flat Finny Friends
(Authored by Don Danila)
The first three meetings were strictly winter flounder
After that the species list grew much longer
We heard about American, European, and Alaska plaice
Windowpane, yellowtail, and witch all kept pace
Halibuts from California, Greenland, Atlantic and Pacific
Hogchoker, fourspot, and English sole were all terrific
Gulf stream and fringed flounders and bay whiff are all very small
Six Paralichthys from Argentina, but only three were valid as I recall
Of tonguefishes the offshore species was mentioned only one time
But the more common blackcheek now completes this rhyme
From Alaska came flathead, yellowfin and rock soles
Smallmouth and summer flounders each played their roles
Southern and starry flounders - wait I’m not done yet
Broad and Gulf flounders, that’s nearly all you’ll get
At least our ichthyologists - Tom Munroe and J. Andrew Cooper
Kept names out of their abstracts, for me that was super
Except in this year’s abstracts, for that I am miffed
Tom just had to mention anglefin and horned whiffs
I’m finally to the end, ‘though I’m still on a roll
My favorite name of them all, the Senegal sole!