NOAA Fisheries Service has awarded a $295,000 grant to the Virginia Institute of Marine
Science to conduct a near-shore ocean trawling program to help assess single and multispecies
fish stock in the waters between Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. and Cape Hatteras, N.C.
Mate Rigo Rodriguez guides a sample up and over the stern. (Credit: VIMS NEAMAP Program)
A typical NEAMAP sample being separated into species bins by VIMS investigators (left to right) RaeMarie Johnson, David Lange, Jim Gartland and Stephanie Dukes. (Credit: VIMS NEAMAP Program)
Approximately 150 stations, each representing about 30 square miles of ocean and in
depths generally between 20 and 60 feet, will be sampled each spring and fall. The survey also
will include a number of stations in the somewhat deeper waters of Block Island Sound and
Rhode Island Sound.
The survey will supplement and complement ongoing NOAA survey work. The scientific
trawl gear to be used was designed by the New England Fishery Management Council’s Trawl
Advisory Panel which consists of industry advisors, gear manufacturers and scientific personnel
working cooperatively to improve assessment data collection efforts. Similar trawl gear will be
used on NOAA’s new survey vessel, the Henry B. Bigelow.
“This project will provide significant stock assessment data improvements for species
including summer flounder, scup, black seabass, loligo squid, butterfish, and bluefish,” said
Christopher Bonzek, a principal investigator with the Virginia Institute, along with Robert Latour
and James Gartland. “It will also provide stock assessment-quality data for weakfish, Atlantic
croaker, spot, several skate and ray species, smooth dogfish, horseshoe crab, and several
unmanaged but important forage species.”
Catch allocations allowed under this grant include 150,000 pounds of summer flounder,
50,000 pounds of loligo squid, 150,000 pounds of scup, 50,000 pounds of black sea bass, and
50,000 pounds of bluefish for a total allowable catch of 450,000 pounds.
For each fishing year, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council may set aside up to
three percent of the total allowable landings in certain Mid-Atlantic fisheries to be used for
research purposes under its 2008 mid-Atlantic research set-aside program, which provides a
mechanism to fund research and compensate vessel owners through the sale of fish harvested
under the research quota.
The grant is one of three awarded under the program by NOAA Fisheries Service
through its cooperative research program to further the understanding of the nation’s fisheries,
enhance information used in fisheries management decision-making, and foster collaborations
among marine fisheries interests.
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