Troy Hartley, Executive Director
Northeast Consortium

University of New Hampshire

142 Morse Hall

39 College Road


2 April 2004
Dear NEC,


Having now collected multiple years of hourly bottom-water temperature from dozens of locations off our coast, New England lobstermen  have a better understanding of the physical environment of their prey and a better appreciation of  both spatial and temporal variability.  Plans are underway to continue this monitoring practice in order to compile empirical evidence of the multiple processes affecting multiple locations with multiple frequencies.

Ever since the eMOLT concept was first implemented, when Marc Palombo deployed a Minilog temperature probe off the side of the F/V Terri Ann nearly ten years ago,  fishermen have been looking for a real-time display of temperature. The data they collect under the current protocol  often comes back to them many months after the observations are internally recorded on the sensor.  While lobstermen appreciate these data and plots,  most have expressed a desire to see more immediate results.  Ideally, lobstermen would like to know the "real-time" bottom temperature while they are out fishing.

After hearing this request from so many individuals,  we submitted a proposal to NOAA's Small Business Innovative Research office a few years ago. SBIR then  issued a call to the high tech development community which responded with nine full proposals.   After a lengthy review process by experts in submarine sensor systems,  a company will be selected in April 2004.  In fact, the specifications of this probe are being drawn up with input from the industry at the time of this writing.   The probe is to be engineered and prepared for the commercial market within the next six months.

We propose, therefore,  to leverage this development/engineering contract  by purchasing a small set of these new units and introducing them to the lobster community.  Distributing a set of these probes to our active participants, we expect, will spark even more interest in the eMOLT project and provide both the incentive and the equipment necessary to maintain our long-term monitoring objective.

Given the curiosity, enthusiasm,  and genuine interest the participants have shown to date with our current probes,  we are confident that the demand for this new type of probe exists.  In fact,  if the cost of this new probe can be limited to a few hundred dollars, we expect our participants, once introduced to the technology,  will be ready to invest in multiple units themselves.   Discussions are underway with Friendship Trap managers on the possibility of making temperature probes a standard option on thousands (possibly millions) of traps deployed in the Gulf of Maine. With the network of people involved in eMOLT, we are in a good position to help bring this product to the market, demonstrate its usefulness, and provide support to industry members in implementing the technology.

Our goal here,  as in previous phases of NEC-funded eMOLT projects,  is only to demonstrate a concept.  As in the case of  the salinity and drifter phases of eMOLT for example,  our objective was to demonstrate that lobstermen could play an integral part of our region's ocean observing systems.  They have not only the platform to deploy instrumentation, but also knowledge of the local waters, geography, topography, benthic habitats, tides,  other mariners that make use of their grounds,  and much more.

What are the specific details of this new probe under development?  As with the units we have been using to date,  its primary function will be to store/archive hourly bottom temperature data but will have the added ability to display the recent history in real-time and record additional variables such as pressure (depth).  Depending on the firm that is awarded the SBIR contract, this new functionality will be accomplished in different ways.   New technology allows for transmitting data either  a) acoustically or fiber optically through the water while still deployed,  b) wirelessly while on deck, or  c) directly to a satellite receiver from a surface buoy.   If a combination of these techniques is funded by SBIR,   we will test multiple options. 

The low-cost telemetry techniques we successfully implemented for our "SMCCeMOLT model II" drifters in Phase IV  can now be rigged as fixed units to send bottom temperature as a data stream rather than a position.  The objective, in any of these cases,  is for the lobstermen to obtain the realtime readings without having to alter his or her routine.   In discussions with the various industry representatives thus far, the ability to deploy a large set of low-cost temperature sensors is preferred to just a few overly expensive high-tech units.  The added data stream of  probe pressure (ie depth) will help alleviate the uncertainty associated with trap repositioning.

What are the incentives to continue the temperature phase of eMOLT? First, we have recently coordinated efforts with Canadian colleagues.  The Fishermen and Scientist Research Society (FSRS based in HalifaxNS) has agreed to exchange data.  Merging their temperature records (also from lobster traps) with eMOLTs  database will result in a network of bottom water times series at over 300 hundred sites from CapeBreton to the New Jersey shelf.   One can imagine a web site that includes a chart of the entire northeast including the Atlantic Provinces where the user may click on both Canadian LFA zones and US state zones,  select sites by depth, and view time series plots from multiple years.  Having these data from upstream source waters may provide the evidence needed to forecast events within the gulf. Secondly, we plan to collaborate closely with the ventless trap projects currently underway and planned. These studies conducted by various state and local institutions intend to install temperature probes on their experimental traps, as is currently done with the FSRS ventless survey in Canada. We hope therefore to work closely with these groups and provide support for downloading, processing, and analyzing the temperature records. We are considering, in fact, the possibility of merging eMOLT Phase V proposal with these initiatives and would not be disappointed if NEC suggested such a merger as an alternative to separate proposals.

What will be needed in terms of support?  As in previous phases of eMOLT, the primary cost of this project is in outreach/education activity.  Industry personnel (ie "association representatives") will be tasked to communicate with participants about the project protocol.  Participants need to be trained and reminded of the deployment documentation procedures on a regular basis.  They need to be contacted every few months to ensure that the probes are deployed and that the mooring logs are properly maintained.  Given that the participants are busy  fishing and difficult to get a hold of, this is no easy job. We hope to maintain the same level of support funding, therefore, as in previous phases with some modification in the administrative procedures. Where money was allocated to each association in the past, the distribution will now be allocated based on documented effort. A strict accounting of hours-spent, phone-calls made, and meetings-attended will be implemented to justify salary reimbursements of each administrator. In other words, administrators will be directly compensated for the work they conduct and the data returned.   Since the cost of the instrumentation in this phase is relative small, we expect to request nearly half of what we did in the most recent phase, approximately $100K.  Now that association representatives are supplied with laptops and LCD projectors,  a minimal supply of office equipment and software updates is needed.

We hope  to evolve with new technology,  maintain our relationship with a large network of  cooperative fishermen, and respond to  the needs of both industry and science in order to keep the eMOLT project alive.We appreciate the support the NEC has provided to eMOLT in previous phases and hope to continue this relationship as we move the eMOLT concept forward.


JiM, Patrice, Erin, Dave, Jeremy, and Bonnie

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