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2014-2015 Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Awards Announced

monkfish on ocean bottom
Close-up of sea scallop. Credit: Heidi Marotta, NEFSC/NOAA

Thirty-one researchers from fourteen different organizations have been awarded 2014/2015 research grants focused on Atlantic sea scallops, the nation’s highest-valued single species commercial fishery. The researchers will be working as principal and co-principal investigators on sixteen projects totaling just over $16.5 million. These awards are funded entirely by proceeds from selling a portion of the annual sea scallop quota “set aside” for this purpose.

Award recipients are located in Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, and Virginia and include universities, non-profit research and education foundations, a fish hatchery, commercial fishing vessels and businesses, and a state fisheries agency.

Research set-aside (RSA) programs are unique to federal fisheries in the northeast region, which includes the mid-Atlantic. Under RSAs, no federal funds are provided to support the research; rather, funding is provided by granting the awardees Set-Aside allocations for certain quota managed or days-at-sea (DAS) managed fisheries. The allocations are then harvested and sold or auctioned to provide funds for the research. Current RSAs include programs for Atlantic sea scallops, Atlantic herring, monkfish, and mid-Atlantic multispecies which include Atlantic mackerel, black sea bass, bluefish, butterfish, Illex squid, Loligo squid, scup, summer flounder, and tilefish.

Special committees of the regional federal fishery management councils set the research priorities and researchers compete for funding. NOAA Fisheries manages the competition, award, and reporting process but does not retain or use any research set-aside funds.

In 2013, eighteen researchers from seven different institutions were awarded just over $12.5 million for fourteen projects, and in 2012 researchers from five institutions were awarded just over $11.5 million for thirteen projects. Including those for 2014/2015, just over $86 million has been awarded and 113 sea scallop research set-aside projects have been conducted since the program began in 2000.

The research results will be used to improve sea scallop recruitment and mortality, assess the impacts of future ocean acidification and warming on scallop shells and meat weights, assess the abundance and distribution of scallops in several areas, develop fishing gear that reduces bycatch of flatfish and sea turtles, and utilize new technologies for better sampling and monitoring of sea scallop populations and their habitats.

Researchers at the Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) in East Falmouth, Mass. will continue their work testing gear to reduce flatfish bycatch, and test the energy efficiency of towing the frame to determine the economic impact of design changes. Researchers will also continue monitoring the enhanced scallop seedbed established in 2013 and transplant scallop seed from a recent high density bed to the experimental seed bed to demonstrate the feasibility of a seeding program to enhance and stabilize scallop recruitment on Georges Bank, while documenting the factors that affect seed survival.

Another project will use a remotely-operated vehicle, dredge-mounted cameras and a camera trolley to examine the dredge path of a 4.57-meter-wide Coonamessett Farm turtle deflector dredge; tows will be made on commercial scallop grounds in Georges Bank, Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic Bight regions to determine the quantity and condition of scallops left in the dredge path.

Building on the success of prior CFF turtle behavioral research, investigators will tag juvenile loggerhead turtles with water-activated satellite tags in an effort to understand the impacts of the sea scallop fishery on loggerhead sea turtles.

Northeastern University researchers will study the impacts of future carbon dioxide-induced ocean acidification and warming on the calcification rate, shell properties, and meat weight of Northwest Atlantic sea scallops through controlled laboratory experiments and targeted field studies. The research is intended to produce the first spatial resolution maps of seawater carbonate chemistry and temperature, revealing which areas of Georges Bank are most vulnerable to future ocean acidification and warming.

Researchers from the Maine Department of Marine Resources will work with University of Maine staff to assess sea scallop distribution and abundance in federal and adjacent state waters of the Gulf of Maine. They will test dredge-bag designs for a new low-profile scallop dredge frame and use the survey information to optimize a long-term fishery-independent monitoring program.

University of Delaware researchers will work with colleagues at VIMS and a commercial vessel to estimate the rate of incidental mortality of sea scallops exposed to commercial dredging.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth School of Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) will continue research using the SMAST Bycatch Avoidance System, expand the system to open areas in Southern New England, and include windowpane flounder bycatch. Other projects will survey open areas of Georges Bank and a “sliver” of Closed Area 1 to produce biomass estimates for future management plans, and use visual observations of scallops at a seafood display auction and vessel captains’ knowledge to identify gray meats in time and space. Laboratory experiments will test the ability of gray meat scallops to recover to white meat quality. The project will produce a map of gray meat outbreaks to provide fishermen with a product to avoid poor quality scallops, and provide management with information to assess the vulnerability of stocks and develop methods to manage the condition.

Scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) will provide a detailed assessment of the abundance and distribution of both adult and pre-recruit sea scallops in the Long Island, Southern New England area. Linking this effort to an existing VIMS survey in the Mid-Atlantic area south of Hudson Canyon will provide managers with a comprehensive dredge survey of the entire region. A second project will estimate sea scallop discard mortality rate in the commercial dredge fishery.

FY 2014/2015 Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Projects

Project Organization Principal Investigators Award
Optical Survey of Scallop Resource in the Elephant Trunk Scallop Access Area Arnies Fisheries, Inc. Richard Taylor $895,320
Optical Survey of Recent Scallop Settlement Areas along the Southern New England Continental Shelf Arnies Fisheries, Inc. Richard Taylor $894,360
Improvements to the CFTDD Design for Flatfish Bycatch Reduction and Energy Efficiency Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) Farell Davis, Christopher Parkins, Daniel Ward, Megan Winton (CFF); Dave Rudders (VIMS) $1,082,224
Habitat Characterization and Sea Scallop Resource Enhancement Study in a Proposed Habitat Research Area – Year Two Coonamessett Farm Foundation Katherine Thompson, Daniel Ward, Ron Smolowitz (CFF); Kevin Stokesbury, Susan Inglis (UMASS/SMAST) $770,852
Understanding Impacts of the Sea Scallop Fishery on Loggerhead Sea Turtles Coonamessett Farm Foundation Daniel Ward, Brianna Valenti $919,360
Estimating Incidental Mortality in the Sea Scallop Fishery Coonamessett Farm Foundation Ron Smolowitz $306,565 (2014)
$429,755 (2015)
Assessment of Sea Scallop Distribution and Abundance in Federal and Adjacent State Waters of the Gulf of Maine Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) Kevin Kelly (MDMR); Young Chen, Sam Truesdell (University of Maine) $558,515 (2014)
$372,344 (2015)
Determining Incidental Discard Mortality of Atlantic Sea Scallops, Placopecten magellanicus (Gmelin, 1791), in the Scallop Dredge Fishery in the Mid-Atlantic Bight National Fisheries Institute - Scientific Monitoring Committee Eleanor Bochenek, Jason Morson (Rutgers University) $366,588
Investigating the Effects of Ocean Acidification and Warming on the Shell Properties and Meat Weights of NW Atlantic Sea Scallops Via Paired Field Surveys and Laboratory Experiments Northeastern University Justin Ries, Jonathan Grabowski (NU); Bradley Harris (Alaska Pacific University); Kevin Stokesbury (SMAST); Daniel Eilertsen (Nordic, Inc.) $919,277 (2014)
$801,465 (2015)
Incidental Mortality Estimates of Sea Scallops from AUV-Based BACI Surveys University of Delaware Art Trembanis, Doug Miller (UD); David Rudders (VIMS); Arthur Ochse, Kenneth Ochse (F/V CHRISTIAN & ALEXA)  $1,147,794 (2014)
$508,545 (2015)
Scallop Fishery Bycatch Avoidance System University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, School for Marine Science & Technology Steven Cadrin, Catherine O’Keefe, Greg DeCelles $678,955
Broadscale Video Survey of the Open Areas of Georges Bank University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth - SMAST Kevin Stokesbury, N. David Bethony $1,368,126 (2014)
$1,368,126 (2015)
High-Resolution Video Survey and Biological Sampling of the Northern Area of Closed Area I University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth - SMAST Kevin Stokesbury, Susan Inglis, N. David Bethony $438,898
Tracking the Occurrence of Gray Meat in Atlantic Sea Scallops University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth - SMAST Kevin Stokesbury, Susan Inglis, Dan Georgianna $572,123
An Assessment of Sea Scallop Abundance and Distribution in the Long Island/Southern New England Area Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) David Rudders $456,346
Discard Mortality of Sea Scallops Following Capture and Handling in the Sea Scallop Dredge Fishery Virginia Institute of Marine Science David Rudders (VIMS); James Sulikowski (University of New England); James Mandelman (New England Aquarium) $963,981 (2014)
$693,200 (2015)


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