Environmental Monitors of Lobster Traps
(Feb 2002 Bi-annual report to NOAA/Fisheries)

Phase I  Temperature

As of this writing (6  Feb 2002), nearly one hundred temperatures probes are distributed around New England. Most are deployed in various depths ranging from 20 to  200 fathoms throughout the Northeast Continental Shelf including the Gulf of Maine. More than half of these probes have already returned data.  These hourly records from fixed locations are typically several months long.  Plots of each record are posted on the eMOLT  web page (emolt.html) along with the actual temperatures series.  [Note: We have applied for the domain name "www.emolt.org" but having trouble getting it activated.] The objective is to occupy the same sites in subsequent years in order to investigate the inter-annual variability. Participants are learning how to carefully document each deployment so that they may return to these fixed locations.  A log sheet was developed for this purpose but some of the offshore participants are actively using the Thistle Marine Data loggers to electronically record their catch and position.  The protocol in using the Thistle Marine data for eMOLT documentation is not yet stable but is a high priority.

Much of this first year of operation entailed working out the logistics. The distribution of  equipment and information down through the levels of lobster foundations and associations required considerable time and effort. The resources and outreach activity was limited especially in the state of Maine where the participants are so widely distributed geographically.  Patrice Farrey,  as the interim Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation coordinator,  is in the process of  wrapping-up tasks associated with the first phase of eMOLT.  She has been accounting  both supplies and support money associated with eMOLT I and disbursing the balance to the associations.   Association representatives have received their allotment of equipment and probes. They are now preparing for routine data downloading sessions on a seasonal basis which entails a significant amount of data entry and probe calibration checks.

Phase II Salinity
We have now turned much of our attention to the work proposed in the second phase of eMOLT.  Most of the salinity probes have been delivered.  One unit has been tested extensively at the Woods Hole Aquarium  and  one unit has been deployed in the field (thanks to Marc  Palombo), recovered, and redeployed.  Manuals have been produced to assist participants in operating and caring for the instruments. Other participants interested in deploying these salinity probes will be selected by the association representatives and  presented an instrument ready for deployment at the Maine Fish Forum (March 2002).  They we be asked to attend a full day training session sometime next month to become comfortable with the unit and knowledgeable about its operation/calibration procedures. The idea is for each of the four associations to start with at least  one salinity probe (Seabird Microcats) that will be recalibrated/refurbished on a near annual basis. It is unknown how much biofouling will take place in the various offshore environments.  Preliminary experiments in Woods Hole Harbor indicate a need to maintain the instrument with frequent flushing/cleaning and water sampling.

We hope to visit with as many of the eMOLT participants as possible at the upcoming  Maine Fishermen Forum.  As with the recent Mass Lobstermen Weekend,  this is an ideal setting to present the first year results and to sit down with each participant individually to discuss the data in detail. Those participants who will not be attending either of these functions are asked to contact their association representative (Spinazzola, Casoni, Farrey, or Grindal) to arrange for a private meeting.  All participants and anyone interested in the project should be able to talk with eMOLT representatives, download data, submit documentation, and ask questions at their respective monthly association meetings.

To check the status of this project and any additions/changes to the eMOLT operations, participants and administrators should visit the "What's New" , the top-most link on the eMOLT homepage.  Casual visitors can also visit the "One-page eMOLT updates" page for seasonal reviews of the progress to date.

Phase III Data Management Centers

The phase III  planning letter at nec_letter_2002.html has been accepted and a draft proposal will be discussed by administrators at the upcoming fish forum in Maine.

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

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