Cooperative Research in the Northeast
Our Cooperative Research Branch engages the fishing community 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. We work together to improve our 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
- Facilitates communication and collaboration among Northeast fisheries professionals
Bottom Longline Survey
The Gulf of Maine Cooperative Bottom Longline Survey started in 2014 to collect data on species that trawl surveys can’t sample well because they prefer rocky habitat. We conduct this survey every spring and fall aboard two chartered commercial fishing vessels. Scientists incorporate data from this survey into stock assessments and use it to answer questions about species distribution shifts and ecosystem dynamics.
Starting in 2019, to improve efficiency and data quality, we replaced paper logs with a tablet-based application that communicates with digital scales, electronic fish measuring boards, and barcode scanners. Additionally, we equipped each vessel with electronic monitoring cameras to get detailed information on bait condition and hook status. Researchers will use this information to assess how hook-specific catch differs among seafloor types, depth, and time of day.
- F/V Tenacious II
- F/V Mary Elizabeth
- 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
The Study Fleet originated in 2006 to engage fishermen in collecting high resolution data to address science and management needs. This partnership demonstrates the utility of fishery-dependent data. The Study Fleet comprises approximately 50 fishing vessels whose captains and crews collect detailed data on fishing effort, catch, and environmental conditions.
Researchers use Study Fleet data for many purposes, including:
- Estimating fishery footprints
- Developing catch-per-unit-effort indices for stock assessments
- Understanding the potential impact of offshore wind on fishing operations
- Developing thermal niche models
- Informing regional oceanographic models
This program involves approximately 50 fishing vessels from Maine to North Carolina.
Our partners collect haul-level fishing effort, catch, and temperature and depth data.
Contact: Katie Burchard
GOFISH Data Dashboard
The Graphical Offshore Fishing Information System Homepage (GOFISH) allows Study Fleet participants to access, explore, and apply the data collected over the years using the FLDRS electronic logbook software. GOFISH runs on Study Fleet computers to produce 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
- Refine their fishing practices accordingly
Contact: Jeff Pessutti
Cooperative Environmental Monitoring
The Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps and Large Trawlers (eMOLT) program outfits fishing vessels with oceanographic sensors to collect bottom water temperature data across the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf. This program also sets up data transmission routines to enable near-real time data sharing. These data feed into numerical oceanographic models and into data visualization and access platforms, such as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Associations of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems. This process is similar to the National Weather Service’s use of air temperature observations on land in their forecast models.
Contact: George Maynard
Industry-Based Biological Sampling
Our branch works with industry partners across the region to collect fish and invertebrate samples for age, growth, reproduction, and bioenergetics studies. Biosample collection focuses on times of year and areas without surveys or other means to obtain fish samples.
For example, we have collected herring samples to evaluate skipped spawning events and haddock samples to study reproductive dynamics in the Gulf of Maine, where extreme fluctuations occur. We have recently targeted data-poor species such as cusk and wolffish. The InBioS Program also collects samples and data to better understand how conversion factors (processed to whole weight) vary over space, time, sex, and maturity for species not landed whole.
Contact: Katie Burchard
Collaborative Shortfin Squid Research
We initiated a research project to incorporate fishing industry insights and knowledge into our understanding of northern shortfin squid, focusing on the U.S. stock. We work with harvesters, processors, and scientists to identify patterns and potential environmental drivers of catch rates, distribution, and availability of shortfin squid. The Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council has used data from this project in analyses for specification setting. Our analyses are being considered in the ongoing Northern Shortfin Squid Research Track Assessment, which forms the scientific basis for quantifying the stock status and determining fishing limits.
- Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Illex Working Group
- Illex Research Track Stock Assessment Working Group
- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
- Open Ocean Research
- Illex fishing fleet and processors
Contact: Anna Mercer
Shortfin Squid Electronic Size Monitoring
We require high frequency, region-wide size and weight sampling of shortfin squid to gain a better understanding of the cohort and population structure of this valuable, dynamic species. Our researchers and industry partners have worked together to develop an efficient electronic system to collect standardized shortfin squid size and weight data. In the summer of 2021, we installed electronic data collection systems at processing facilities across the region. When fishing vessels land at a facility, the data collection system records paired mantle length and whole weight of each individual squid. These data will help scientists better understand the size composition of shortfin squid cohorts and population while the fishery is open, which is key in advancing the assessment and management of this dynamic species.
Contact: Thomas Swiader
Evaluating Impacts from Offshore Wind Energy
To understand the potential conflict between fisheries operations and the development of offshore wind farms, we work with the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology using fine-scale fishing data from a variety of sources. These sources, which include the NEFSC Study Fleet and Observer Program, help us explore how the scale of fishery-dependent data (e.g. haul-by-haul versus trip-level) affects our understanding of the fishing operation footprint.
We also collaborate with industry partners to review data sources, analytical approaches, and results, and to predict socioeconomic implications of offshore wind energy for fishery operations and management.
Contact: Lianne Allen-Jacobson