The Northeast Cooperative Research Program develops and supports research projects to improve our ability to effectively manage fisheries, and to build trust and understanding among the various stakeholders in the fisheries community and management agencies.
Partnering fishing and science professionals on projects ensures that research results are practically oriented, solve problems, and resolve issues facing fishery managers. Using scientific methods to develop those solutions and resolutions ensures that the work is conducted objectively, is well-documented, and produces meaningful information.
Program priorities reflect management needs and research gaps identified by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils through public processes.
When the NCRP was initiated in 1999, three core activities were identified as critical to the program: industry-based surveys, study fleets, and Atlantic cod tagging. Significant work in these areas was accomplished during the first ten years of the program.
In 2008-2009, a strategic planning process was conducted to identify new or continuing initiatives that should be undertaken during the next three to five years. The current strategic plan can be downloaded here.
Research themes highlighted during the strategic planning process include initiatives to support:
- Development of innovative monitoring tools and pilot programs to address data gaps and ease industry adaptation to new management regimes. This theme focuses on ways to make reporting from fishing operations more timely and accurate, improving estimates of the amount and type of fish discarded during commercial operations, conducting resource surveys for areas or species not well-covered by other existing surveys.
- Development of a comprehensive regional conservation engineering program: The goal of conservation engineering is to find tools and technologies that can improve the selectivity of fish harvests and reduce the effects of fishing on the ocean environment. This means developing and testing new fishing gear, technologies, and techniques. Projects under this theme promote better integration and coordination of the region's assets and capabilities within the conservation engineering community, include untapped expertise of the fishing industry to guide the design of gear projects, and support the transfer of new solutions to the industry.
The Northeast Cooperative Research Program Strategic Plan is re-evaluated periodically as fisheries science and management in the Northeast evolve and new research needs are identified.