To Be Made
NMFS Northeast Region
N E W SGloucester, MA -- NOAA Fisheries has announced funding for three cooperative research projects totaling $831,864. The projects focus on the region's recovering groundfish stocks, and will be conducted by fishermen working with scientists.
"This cooperative work emphasizes pooling our knowledge about groundfish, and is vital to continued progress toward rebuilding these stocks," says Patricia Kurkul, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries in the Northeast. NOAA Fisheries supports research about, develops policy governing, and implements rules for use of the nation's living marine resources.
Projects announced today will be conducted by the University of Massachusetts, the New England Aquarium, and the fishing enterprise Kathleen Mirarchi Inc. At least six more cooperative projects are expected to be funded by the end of the month. In all, about $2 million will be used in these and similar projects, with additional funding likely to follow as the program matures.
With $570,088, the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) will work with at least 23 trawlers from the New Bedford area, members industry group Trawler Survival Fund, to get information about fish distribution. Trawl vessels tow a net, and collect information on the total catch in each of 5000 individual tows. Data collected this way can show a fine-scale picture of fish distribution and abundance in the study area, which will center in waters southeast of Cape Cod. Researchers also hope to obtain information useful for comparing and relating physical factors that may influence the catch obtained per unit of effort.
Kathleen Mirarchi, Inc. will use $150,990 to study the effects of trawl gear on soft bottom in Cape Cod Bay. Vessel owners from several vessels working out of Scituate, Mass., will work with CR Environmental of Cape Cod and other technical and scientific staff. The project will assess the effects of trawl gear, including doors, cables, and nets, on the animal communities living in and on the ocean floor; and will study the short-term effects of trawling on the characteristics of the sediment and water column.
The New England Aquarium will receive $110,789 to convene a task force of fishermen and scientists who will develop a comprehensive plan for a cod-tagging program covering the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. The Aquarium will also hold a series of town meetings in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island to get local fishermen's advice on what a cod tagging program should entail. The plan is expected to be completed by April.
The cooperative research program is intended to improve knowledge of groundfish, and to promote a better working relationship among scientists, managers, and fishermen responsible for managing their use. The projects funded were among the more than 80 submitted for consideration to the New England Fishery Management Council's Research Steering Committee. The council devises plans governing fishing for these species in federal waters. The Research Steering Committee identified four broad areas of research: the status and biology of groundfish stocks, improving fishery management, habitat research, and gathering social and economic information about the fishing communities. All proposals were reviewed and ranked by the committee.