Fisheries Ecology in the Northeast
We study fisheries ecology: the relationship between important marine life and their environment. Our goal is to support sustainable wild and farmed fisheries on the Northeast shelf to create opportunities and benefits for the economy and ecosystem.
The United States is a world leader in sustainably managed fisheries and seafood. New Jersey fisheries are key to employment for coastal and surrounding communities. They contribute more than $1 billion to the state economy. To ensure our fisheries are resilient to climate change and other human-caused environmental issues, we work with partners to perform science in support of sustainable fishery management.
As a coastal region, the Northeast relies on ocean resources. Climate change creates a less predictable, and warming climate. Higher global temperatures cause environmental changes like sea-level rise and quicker development of young fish. From surveys to experiments, we assess and track changes in our oceans. Our research from studying the effects of climate change on marine life health informs sustainable ocean management.
Wind Energy and Fish Behavior
We work to understand the interactions between offshore wind energy projects, marine life, and habitats. Funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, we study the impact noise has on black sea bass behavior. This research informs management to protect fisheries as offshore wind energy development continues.
Food security, or knowing where our food will come from, is a growing concern as the human population increases. Aquaculture is a method to grow fish in land-based recirculating systems or in controlled open-water containment areas. Aquaculture can increase food security and support wild fish markets. Understanding the factors that affect fish growth and health is key to sustainably raising fish. We are working with Manna Fish Farms and Stonybrook University to study productive and sustainable ways to raise finfish in our region. This project and our other research helps inform and benefit the aquaculture industry.
Pollution Impacts on Fish Health and Reproduction
Industrial waste is an ongoing problem in our urban waterways and is harmful to wildlife. We study the effects of industrial pollution on fish health. Understanding these effects helps managers prevent pollution, clean up, and restore polluted rivers. By protecting our waterways, these studies help protect New Jersey's fish populations. We work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Ocean Service. We study the environmental impacts of Superfund sites on fish populations in the Lower Passaic River, New Jersey. From studies in Newark Bay and the Elizabeth River to the Superfund sites, our research supports the future of fish and other wildlife in our waters.
Use of fossil fuels, like gasoline, coal, and natural gas, contributes to climate change by creating more carbon dioxide. As carbon dioxide increases, it mixes into the ocean water and raises its acidity. This increase harms marine life. We study how these changes affect the survival and growth of the most sensitive early life stages of fish. This can help us anticipate future damage to fish populations, assess their resiliency, and better manage future ecosystems.
Fish shed DNA into the water around them from their skin, slime, scales, and waste. The DNA collected in water or soil samples is called environmental DNA (eDNA). This eDNA provides information about the kind of fish and other living organisms recently found in our waters. Collecting and studying environmental DNA is an efficient way for scientists to monitor marine life. In combination with traditional surveys, eDNA fills knowledge gaps for areas and species that were previously hard to monitor. We use eDNA to study marine life responses to climate change. This research can better inform ocean management decisions and help protect our marine resources.
We conduct this science with local, regional, and national collaborators including:
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- Manna Fish Farms
- National Ocean Service’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Stonybrook University
- Monmouth University
- Rutgers University
- SUNY Buffalo