Cooperative Research in the Northeast
Cooperative research engages the fishing community in order to answer science questions and improve management of the region’s fisheries.
Cooperative research is the partnership between the fishing industry and the science community to improve understanding of ocean ecosystems and support sustainable fisheries management. This partnership produces tools to collect and share data that advance science and fishing, applies and interprets data to address research questions, and facilitates communication and collaboration among fisheries professionals in the Northeast.
Gulf of Maine Cooperative Bottom Longline Survey
The Cooperative Gulf of Maine Bottom Longline Survey originated in 2014 as a way to collect data on species that are not well sampled by trawl gear due to their preference for rocky habitat. More survey and biological data were needed to improve assessments for these species, many of which are economically important. The survey has collected more than 6,200 life history samples and 1,300 samples for detailed reproductive and ageing studies. The Cooperative Gulf of Maine Bottom Longline Survey data (biological and time series) is incorporated into stock assessments and is used to answer research questions about species distribution shifts and ecosystem dynamics.
Industry partners: F/V Tenacious II and F/V Mary Elizabeth
Data Collected: Species abundance and biomass, biosamples for age and reproductive analysis, habitat classification (video) of survey stations, temperature and depth at survey stations, current measurements at survey stations.
Contact: Dave McElroy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Study Fleet originated in 2007 as a way of engaging fishermen in collecting high resolution catch, effort, and environmental data to address science and management needs, and to demonstrate the utility of high-resolution fishery-dependent data. The Study Fleet is composed of approximately 50 fishing vessels, whose captains and crews collect detailed data on fishing effort, catch, and environmental conditions. Study Fleet data have been used to:
- Estimate fishery footprints.
- Develop catch-per-unit-effort indices for stock assessments.
- Understand the potential impact of offshore wind on fishing operations.
- Develop thermal niche models.
- Inform regional oceanographic models.
Industry Partners: Approximately 50 fishing vessels from Maine to North Carolina
Data Collected: Haul-level fishing effort, catch, and temperature and depth data.
Contact: Andy Jones (email@example.com)
Fisheries Logbook Data Recording Software Electronic Logbook Application
The Fisheries Logbook Data Recording Software (FLDRS) is a research tool used by Study Fleet participants to collect detailed fishing effort, catch, and discard data during routine fishing practices. The Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office has certified FLDRS for electronic Vessel Trip Reports (eVTR). This allows Study Fleet participants to fulfill a regulatory requirement while participating in research. The FLDRS tool can be used to record data from trawls, longlines, gillnets, or fish pots. The data collected via FLDRS describe both individual fishing effort (gear, duration, location, for example) and the trip as a whole (departure, landings, ports, dealers, etc.). Users can collect data either by recording each haul and its catch separately, or by aggregating the catch made during one segment of the trip.
Go-FISH Data Dashboard
The Graphical Offshore Fishing Information System Homepage (GOFISH) allows Study Fleet participants to access, explore, and apply the data they have collected over the years using FLDRS. The GOFISH application produces automated analyses and visualizations of catch, bycatch, and environmental conditions for individual Study Fleet participants. Captains participating in the Study Fleet use GoFISH to explore their catch and effort data over space and time, compare their fishing patterns to oceanographic conditions, plot catch and bycatch rates, and refine their fishing practices accordingly.
Cooperative Environmental Monitoring
The Cooperative Research Branch works with commercial fishing partners to collect critically needed bottom water temperature data off the Northeastern United States. Working in collaboration with the Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps and Large Trawlers (eMOLT) project, our staff outfits fishing vessels with oceanographic loggers to collect bottom water temperature data and set up data transmission routines to enable near-real time data sharing. These data are assimilated into numerical oceanographic models, and into data visualization and access platforms, such as Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems, Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System, and ERDDAP. This process is similar to the way that the National Weather Service uses observations of air temperatures on land in their forecast models.
Industry-Based Enhanced Biosampling
The Cooperative Research Branch works with industry partners across the region to collect biological samples for focused, short-term studies on age, growth, reproductive dynamics, and bioenergetics. Biosample collection is focused on the times of year and in areas where there are no surveys or other mechanisms to access fish samples. For example, herring samples have been obtained to evaluate skipped spawning events, and haddock samples have been examined to better understand the reproductive dynamics in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank, where extreme fluctuations in reproduction occur.
Recent efforts have also targeted sampling for data-poor species such as cusk and wolffish. There is limited life history information available for these species in the western North Atlantic. Given the challenges with data-poor species, industry-based sampling can be especially valuable, and data obtained from commercial catches of these species help to fill data gaps and improve the information available to resource managers and stock assessment scientists.
The enhanced biosampling program also supports conversion factor research, which focuses on updating conversion factors used to calculate the live weight of landed catch, especially important for species that are not landed whole. This calculation makes it possible to examine the significance of variables such as time, space, sex, and maturity and to determine if a model-based approach is more appropriate than current static factors.
Contact: Katie Burchard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Collaborative Shortfin Squid Research
The Northern Shortfin Squid Project was implemented to incorporate the insights and knowledge of the fishing industry into our understanding of shortfin squid (Illex illecebrosus) population variability. Key components of the project are estimating the spatial impact of the squid fishery, analyzing patterns in size distribution and catch rates, and developing methods to make in-season predictions of relative abundance to support adaptive management techniques.
Partners: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Illex Working Group, Open Ocean Research, Illex fleet
Contact: Brooke Lowman (email@example.com)