Fishermen asked to call in drifter

sightings:Location, ID numbers

KENNEBUNK, ME - Fishermen are being asked to keep an eye out for "drifters" in the months ahead and report any sightings to the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation (GOMLF).

Approximately 16 drifters will be released by lobstermen off the coast of Maine and Massachusetts on the first of each month from June through September, 2004.

Fishermen and mariners who sight the units are asked to report the drifter location using a toll-free automated system, said Erin Pelletier, GOMLF project manager.

Pelletier has been speaking to fishermen's groups, explaining the purpose of the drifter deployments, which is one phase of the foundation's ongoing eMOLT (environmental monitors on lobster traps) project.

If a fisherman comes upon a drifter floating in the water, he is asked to record the five-digit drifter identification (ID) number that is located on the 5' length of vertical PVC pipe.He should also check and record the loran or GPS position.

The drifter should be returned to the water, Pelletier said, if it has to be picked up to read the ID number.

A fisherman can call in the drifter sighting using the toll-free number 1 (888) 284-4904.Press "5" on the first phone prompt and then automated instructions will be given for using keypad entry of drifter ID and location

The deployments will begin June 1.Lobstermen helping with the drifter sets and their drop sites include:Nick Lemieux, Cutler, ME; Steve Robbins, Isle au HautME; Ed Hunt, Small PointME; and Arthur "Sooky" Sawyer, GloucesterMA.

As sightings are reported they will be recorded and available to be followed on the web site <www.emolt.org>.Technology similar to Mapquest will be used to make the tracks readily viewable.

Purpose

The eMOLT project, in which lobstermen collect oceanographic data including temperature and salinity, receives cooperative research funding by the Northeast Consortium.

The drifter phase is a pilot program to test the feasibility of fishermen deploying drifters and calling in sightings, rather than the usual high cost technique of contracting a research vessel and using satellite technology.

The goal of this phase is to study surface drift patterns and their impacts on the lobster population, particularly helping to better understand lobster larval transport, Pelletier said.The data will be used to verify and improve oceanographic models in New England.

The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation is a partnership among fishermen, scientists and other industry stakeholders who cooperate to gather scientific information on American lobster and the Gulf of Maine ecosystem in order to improve management decisions, ensure healthy fisheries, and sustainable resources.

For more information, visit the web site <www.emolt.org> or contact Pelletier at (207) 985-8088 or e-mail <eringomlf@gwi.net>./cfn/

cutline

Peter K. Prybot photo

Lobsterman Steve Robbins, left, and Jim Manning of the NortheastFisheriesScienceCenter, who is the eMOLT project lead scientist, with a drifter.Manning led a discussion of the drifter project at a Maine Fishermen's Forum seminar in March.Robbins, Nick Lemieux, Ed Hunt, and Sooky Sawyer begin drifter deployments along the Maine and Massachusetts coast on June 1.

The drifters, which were built by marine science students at the Southern Maine Community College, are made from PVC pipe and rods, floats, hardware such as hose clamps, cotter pins, and washers, submerged sails, and flags.



For further information contact: James.Manning@noaa.gov

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