Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Integrated West Coast Pelagics Survey

A more efficient and sustainable data collection approach for the West Coast Pacific hake and coastal pelagic fisheries

What is the Integrated Survey?

The vision for the Integrated West Coast Pelagics Survey is a robust fisheries-independent survey that collects data that supports sustainable Pacific hake and coastal pelagic fisheries, increases ecosystem data collection, and maintains the survey schedule.

It is an opportunity to ensure we collect the data we need and improve how we survey, including accounting for evolving oceanic/ecosystem conditions. Notably, an integrated survey maintains the integrity of the CPS and Pacific hake biomass time series to help meet industry needs.

The Integrated survey will likely include one NOAA Fishery Survey Vessel with other charter vessels and autonomous platforms covering the ocean from Mexico to Canada. It will gather acoustics data, biosampling data, and ecosystem data and be coordinated with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Pesca to sample in their waters.

Recent Updates

Keep up with the latest survey news. Sign up to receive announcements on upcoming outreach events or other updates.

Winter 2024

We’re hosting several upcoming outreach opportunities to work with the industry and update you on our progress. Please consider joining us.

April 8, 2024 - 6:00-8:00 pm

Date/Time: Monday, April 8, 2024, |  6:00-8:00 pm PDT
Join virtually: Google Meet | https://meet.google.com/xnt-gaqz-vyq 
Or Join by phone: (US) +1 650-667-3538 PIN: 515 045 240#

In Person
Public in-person participation will take place at the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) April meeting in Seattle, WA.
Location: Elliott Bay Room The Westin Seattle 1900 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 Phone: 206-728-2259

More outreach events to be scheduled

September 2023

In September 2023, the Government awarded a contract to supply a multi-function trawl net system with field testing and training. The net system will trawl both midwater and at the surface to facilitate an integrated survey of hake and coastal pelagic fish species.

Data Collection off the West Coast Supports the Pacific Hake and Coastal Pelagic Fisheries

The Pacific hake and coastal pelagics fisheries rely on data collected through NOAA surveys and the fisheries. These data are essential for tracking our changing environment and creating accurate stock assessments that ensure these fisheries remain productive and sustainable today and in the future.

Currently, we conduct two fishery-independent surveys to gather data on these crucial West Coast fisheries:

  1. Our Southwest Fisheries Science Center, in partnership with Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Pesca, conducts the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Survey annually.
  2. Our Northwest Fisheries Science Center, in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, conducts the Joint U.S.-Canada Integrated Ecosystem and Pacific Hake Acoustic Trawl Survey (Hake Survey) biennially in odd years and a coordinated hake/ecosystem and survey methods research cruises biennially in even years.

The two surveys cover mainly the same ocean areas off the US West Coast. Both use the acoustic-trawl method to provide biomass estimates vital to stock assessments. But, there are differences, including the time of day, depth, and net configuration used to trawl. Further, the surveys are conducted separately by their respective Science Centers, which have developed working relationships with their corresponding fishing communities.

Drivers for an Integrated Survey

The NOAA Fisheries Survey Vessels we rely on for our current surveys will begin major mid-life repairs on a rotating basis for 12-18 months at a time for the next several years, starting in late 2025. Only one of either the hake (NOAA Ship Shimada) or CPS (NOAA Ship Lasker) survey vessels will be available for the next several years. Repair delays or other disruptions to vessel availability could create additional risks to surveying.

A changing ocean ecosystem requires more robust ecosystem data collection to understand shifts in ecosystem dynamics and their impacts on fisheries.

With short-term funding becoming available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), we now have a unique opportunity to invest in the integrated survey.

Building an Integrated Survey

Our solution is to create one integrated survey for the West Coast that ensures we maintain the scientific integrity of the hake and CPS fisheries' biomass time series in the face of a changing ocean. Integrating the surveys can give us more flexibility by creating unified and nimble capabilities, developing resource and process efficiencies, and incorporating the latest technologies into the survey and data analysis. It is also an opportunity for industry experts to weigh in on how the survey can be designed and improved by sharing expertise, proven methods, and technology innovations. We have seen over the years that strong collaboration between NOAA and industry produces better surveys and better data for the fisheries.

Lessons Learned from Past Efforts

Three times in the past eleven years, we had to combine the two surveys on short notice because of vessel and other issues. Each time, we collected data such that the biomass estimates became part of their respective time series. We are building on past lessons from 2012, 2013, and 2015 to build a stronger approach to an integrated survey.

For example, we are exploring using a single net to catch representative hake and coastal pelagics samples. We are also looking into whether we can use other nets and vessels to catch fish samples. We will thoroughly test any new method against our current methods. If the new method works, we’ll ask the relevant fishery management processes for input before implementing it.

Also, we are coordinating with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Pesca to sample in their waters. And we’re working with several state agencies and the fishing community to continue sampling in nearshore waters using their vessels.

Our teams have experience adapting to bumps in the road to data collection by “working the levers” to make a survey successful. For example, with a loss of sea days on a NOAA vessel, we would look to redirect charter or autonomous vessels and/or adjust the sampling scheme. In evaluating different biosampling methods, we are exploring platform flexibilities and can adapt and test other methods.

Working on the ocean is hard. We want to work with the fishing community and those with diverse on-the-water experiences. Collectively, we are problem-solvers with decades of experience planning and executing fisheries surveys. As part of that experience, we plan for different contingencies and solve issues as they arise, even if unanticipated. We bring all this experience and a commitment to strive for scientific excellence. Further, as we implement the integrated survey, we commit to sharing how things work with you and our management partners.

Integration Timeline

2023 - 2024
Prepare and test new survey methods and gears.
Work with partners to ensure the new survey design provides the data needed.

Begin integrated survey.

2026 and beyond
Conduct the survey and make improvements based on experience and feedback.

We Welcome Your Feedback

How can we make the new integrated survey the most successful? For example, what are your ideas for a net configuration that can catch a representative size range of coastal pelagics and Pacific hake simultaneously or separately? What other biosampling or observing tools or technologies can we use to improve our understanding of these stocks and how they are affected by a changing ocean? Are there charter vessel opportunities to consider for the survey platforms?

You can share your ideas and thoughts or ask questions anytime using the contact information below. Or you can join us at an upcoming outreach event.


NWFSC for Hake:
Craig Russell
Julia Clemons

Annie Yau
Kevin Stierhoff

Last updated by Southwest Fisheries Science Center on March 27, 2024