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NEFSC Study Fleet
Study Fleet are a subset of fishing vessels from which high quality, self-reported data on fishing effort, area fished, gear characteristics, catch, and biological observations are collected. Participating vessels fish in commercial mode, and are selected to be representative of the larger fleet over time. The data collected from these vessels can be used to supplement the stock assessment process.
The NEFSC Study Fleet was initiated with the dual objectives of:
(1) assembling a “study fleet” of commercial New England vessels capable of providing high resolution (temporal and patial) self-reported data on catch, effort and environmental conditions while conducting “normal” fishing operations; and
(2) developing and implementing electronic reporting hardware and software (our Electronic Logbook System) for the collection, recording, and transferring of more accurate and timely fishery-based data.
The NEFSC Study Fleet is a Cooperative Research program. Cooperative Research is designed to bring stakeholders together in a spirit of mutual respect, enabling an environment of shared knowledge and collaborative management strategies. As such, the Study Fleet program provides several benefits to its commercial participants including:
- Direct participation in the scientific data collection process
- Input into the development of electronic reporting technology
Sharing ideas and observations with fisheries scientists
Gaining insight into how environmental factors influence catch rates
- Financial compensation for time and effort involved
Depending on its needs, the Study Fleet contracts vessels that participate in most of the major Northeast fisheries. Although the program is going through an expansion period, Study Fleet typically supports between 20 and 35 contracted vessels. Geographically, they are located from Maine to New Jersey with concentrations heaviest around Gloucester and Point Judith.
With the implementation of sectors, the development of a self-reporting system has been a priority for Study Fleet. Although sectors are currently limited to groundfish, all of our vessels, from scallopers to longliners, have provided valuable feedback that has helped develop FLDRS technology for successful deployments.
Recently, Study Fleet has placed most of its effort and resources into the trawl fishery. In addition to their trip reporting requirements, participating trawl vessels have been an integral part in providing fish samples for age and growth scientists, and getting Study Fleet field scientists out to sea to perform biological sampling.
In the future, vessels in all fisheries will provide fish lengths to help Study Fleet accrue a wider range of data for commercially important species such as yellowtail flounder, winter flounder, and dogfish. With our vessels reporting data on stocks from New Jersey to Maine, one of Study Fleet's objectives is to be able to provide fishery-dependent data that may be used by scientists to supplement the stock assessment process.