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Industry-based cod survey
Massachusetts industry-based cod survey
Credit: Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries

Northeast Cooperative Research Program

Industry-Based Resource Surveys

Industry-based resource surveys have evolved through efforts by scientists and industry members to complement federal trawl surveys by increasing the spatial and temporal resolution of sampling events, particularly in near-shore areas and for individual species of interest. Additional benefits of industry-based surveys include establishing productive working relationships between scientists, managers, and industry members.

This approach has been supported by NOAA Fisheries with the development of the Cooperative Monkfish Survey through internal funding; by regional Fishery Management Councils with the Mid-Atlantic Supplemental Finfish Survey funded under the Research Set-Aside (RSA) program; and by State and regional organizations with the development of the Maine-New Hampshire Trawl Survey, funded by both the Northeast Cooperative Research Partners Program and the Northeast Consortium, and the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program – nearshore trawl program (NEAMAP).

Additional pilot industry-based surveys were conducted between 2003 and 2007, with the goal of collecting data pertinent to Gulf of Maine cod and Southern New England yellowtail flounder stocks and evaluating closed areas. These surveys were designated as priority projects under the Northeast Cooperative Research Partners Program (NCRPP) during broad regional facilitated workshops. Partners in these surveys included four New England states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island), NOAA Fisheries Service, and members of the fishing industry. Fishermen, working with state and federal fisheries scientists provided higher-resolution data on fish populations in near-shore areas, which may be viewed through the Industry-Based Survey Data Mapper. Background information on the development of these surveys is provided below.

To Organize Seven One Day Workshops On Industry-Based Surveys And Study Fleets

Sampling designs developed for cooperative resource surveys range from traditional stratified random sampling, a method similar to resource surveys conducted on research vessels, to sentinel surveys where fisherman recommend sampling stations based on their empirical or traditional ecological knowledge. A hallmark of the pilot projects was the development of an understanding by all partners that there are many different survey designs, each with unique merit and limitations.

The focus of the Gulf of Maine Cod Assessment was to survey aggregations of cod in time and space, describe cod distributions by stock demographic characteristic (age structure, spawning, and variance), and develop a species aggregation map (see link above to IBS Data Mapper). Surveys of cod distribution are needed to provide greater detailed information for management purposes. Data collected is used to monitor inshore stocks, assess the importance of these areas as nursery and spawning grounds, and assess area closures.

The focus of the Southern New England Yellowtail Flounder Project was to document the distribution of yellowtail flounder and assess the effectiveness of the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area through intense sampling with industry designed "flatfish" trawls.

The Mid-Atlantic Supplemental Finfish Survey was designed to augment information collected through NOAA Fisheries Annual Resource Surveys, in particular to better evaluate how seasonal north-south and onshore-offshore migrations affect the stock abundance estimates of commercially and recreationally important species in the Mid-Atlantic.

The Cooperative Monkfish Survey was designed with specific goals to better cover the depth and range of the monkfish resource. This survey was conducted in 2001 and 2004, and extended the strata sampled by the annual NOAA Fisheries Survey.

The primary objective of the Maine-New Hampshire Trawl Survey, conducted since the fall of 2000, is to derive indices of abundance of marine resources in the inshore waters of coastal Maine and New Hampshire, most of which are not covered by NOAA Fisheries’ Annual Surveys. The ME-NH survey has a number of other objectives, including the collection of biological data on marine species, the collection of data used in the development of fisheries management programs, and to improve the acceptance of fisheries science within the fishing community.

As cooperative research projects, the industry-based surveys funded to date have undergone technical peer reviews by independent panels in order to assess survey design and methods, biological sampling, utility of the data collected, and cost-effectiveness, as well as other aspects of the projects. To view the results of the peer review for each survey, click on the following links:

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