Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps
PI contact information:
NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole
Jim Manning, 508-495-2211, firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen
Bonnie Spinazzola, 603-483-3030, email@example.com
Marc Palombo, 508-888-5714, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Casoni, 508-224-3038, email@example.com
Bernie Fenney, 781-447-0750
Association Representative and Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation Director:
Patrice Farrey, 207-985-4544, firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Vuilleumier, email@example.com,
Jill Goldthwait, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clare Grindal, 207-359-8025, email@example.com
Jeremy and Charlene Cates, 207-259-3647, firstname.lastname@example.org
List of project participants:
(as of June 2003)
3- "has probe(s)" and 4- "has probe(s) and has returned data":
ATLANTIC OFFSHORE LOBSTERMEN
4 Bennett Paul Newport RI
4 Campanale RobRoy Pt. Judith
4 Christopher Scott Pt. Judith
4 Colbert Bob Sandwich
4 Colbert Denny Sandwich Ma
4 Cote Bro Hyannis Ma
3 Handrigan Tim Pt. Judith
4 Mataronas Gary Tiverton RI
4 Moore Grant Westport Ma.
4 Palombo Marc Sandwich
3 Palombo William Newport, RI
4 Peabody John Pt. Judith
4 Shafmaster Jonathan Newington NH
4 Spencer David Newport
4 Stribley Russell New Bedford
4 Violet Jim Newport RI
4 Backman Ralph Beals Island
3 Bragdon Robert Winter Harbor Me.
4 Bridges Leroy Deer Isle
4 Cates Brian Cutler
4 Cates Jeremy Cutler
4 Chipman Roger Birch Harbor Me.
4 Chipman John Sr. Birch Harbor Me.
4 Dassatt Mike Belfast Me
3 Day Walter Vinalhaven
3 Farrin Clive BoothbayHarbor
4 Faulkingham Michael Winter Harbor Me.
4 Lemieux Norbert Cutler Me
4 Lemieux Nick Cutler
4 Robbins Stevie Stonington Me. 04681
4 ANDERSON WILLIAM LUBEC
4 BEAR JR Ted&Faith ORRS ISLAND ME
4 Baines Bob Spruce Head Me.
0 Burch John Rockland Me
4 CARTER JON HULLS COVE ME
4 Carter Shane Bar Harbor Me
4 Carver Dwight Jonesport Me
4 FLANIGAN PETER RYE NH
3 Fernald Bruce Isleford Me
3 GOLTER JOE Greenland, NH
4 Gamage Arnold Jr. S. Bristol Me.
3 Hutchins Ed Cape Porpoise Me
4 INGALLS ROBERT BUCKS HARBOR ME
4 Johnson David Long Island Me.
4 MCLAIN BRIAN NEW HARBOR ME
4 MacVane Tom Long Island, Me
4 MerrillIII JOHN (Jack) NORTHEAST HARBOR ME
3 Miller Dan Tenants Harbor Me
2 Morowski Robert Saco Me
4 NuddJr Bob Hampton NH
4 Smith Jay Nobleboro Me.
4 Thomson Mattie Monhegan Island Me
4 Tripp Jim Spruce Head Me.
3 Wells Mark Phippsburg
3 White Jeff York Me
3 Baldwin Lew Humarock
3 Barrett John Cohasset Ma
4 Brown Alex Provincetown Ma.
4 Carroll Emmett Chilmark Ma
3 Carver John Green Harbor Ma.
3 Carver Steve Green Harbor Ma.
4 Dauphinee Fred Scituate
4 Doherty Bill Hingham
4 Haviland John Green Harbor
4 Jesse Todd Plymouth Ma
4 Kandrick David Sandwich
4 Keane Stephen Marshfield Ma.
3 Mahoney Chad Hull Ma.
3 Manning Chris Hull
4 Marcella Bob Hull Ma
4 Martin Bobby/Rob Plymouth Ma
3 Mason Phil Marshfield
4 Oehme Kurt Sandwich
4 Ryan Skip/Chris Squantum Ma
3 Sauvageau Therese Beverly
4 Sawyer Arthur/Sook Gloucester Ma. 01930
4 Souza Billy Provincetown Ma.
3 Trowbridge Larry Scituate Ma.
4 Tufts Mike Glouchester
4 Tupper Mike Rockport Ma
2 Tooley Marybeth Camden
With some modifications during the first few phases of eMOLT, our objectives have now stabilized. Taken directly from the phase III proposal, by monitoring the temperature and salinity at dozens of fixed sites around the Gulf of Maine region, we hope to quantify the scales of variability. One of the long-term scientific goals is to distinguish between advective and locally driven events that influence the bottom water conditions. Given multiple time series along the coast and within different basins, we expect to track the influx and transport of remote source waters.
In subsequent years, with enough empirical information, one may build confidence in predictive models. We envision a time in the future when eMOLT data will be used by local numerical circulation modelers to both initialize and validate their simulations. As we approach the "drifter" phase of measuring circulation patterns along the coast (see phase IV proposal), we have become more committed in this respect by providing numerical modellers with observations of not only temperature and salinity but current velocity.
If interannual variations in temperature and salinity are limited to a few degrees and PPTs, can we document these changes with scientific accuracy? What is the source of error in comparing the conditions at one site with the same site the following year? What constitutes a "site" and how precise must one be in reoccupying that site/depth?
Do changes in bottom water temperature and salinity explain the migration patterns and activity of Homarus americanus? Many of our colleagues are interested in a correlation of lobster abundance and large scale climate signals such as the North Atlantic Oscillation. As depicted in the records thus far (see figures in appended section), there are several episodic events over the course of the year but the dominant feature in this series is the longer trend. After further investigation of historical temperature records, it has become clear that the interannual and even decadal changes in temperature may be the more significant influence on lobster populations given that the temperature effects may be most important during reproductive and larval stages of development. While episodic events may certainly be important in understanding the displacements and redistribution of lobster abundance, the coverage of data necessary to resolve these smaller scale phenomenon would be cost prohibitive. We are now committed to maintaining the eMOLT sampling and have consequently adjusted the focus of our investigation to both longer time scales and a larger region.
It should be clear, however, that we are still committed to documenting small time and space scales as well. Given the hourly records of temperature in a variety of places, we have already documented a large degree of temperature variability due to the semi-diurnal tides, for example. How does the tidal variation in temperature affect the lobster? Do they search for frontal features in the temperature and salinity field rather than an absolute value of a particular variable? This is a particularly interesting question that has come up regularly in discussions of the data collected thus far. The lobstermen have evidently often focused fishing activity on thermal fronts as regions of high abundance and capture. As shown, for example, in Figure 3 of last years annual report the variations due to the tide can be depicted at any one site and the degree of variation changes due to a combination of the lunar cycle and weather events occurring at the time. Is there something associated with a thermocline (food and prey availability) that attracts the animals to that zone?
Assessment of success at meeting the objectives:
The two most important conclusions at the time of this writing are that 1) the interannual variations in bottom waters of central and northern New England are apparently governed by large scale weather pattern such that the entire region responds in a coherent way and 2) the degree of interannual temperature change can be several degrees C. The signal in temperature change therefore is a few orders of magnitude larger than the noise/error associated with the instrumentation's accuracy. Now that three years of data are available at several sites within the Gulf of Maine (Figure 1), we can confidently conclude, for example, that conditions in early 2003 were significantly colder the same time in 2002. Most of the difference is apparently due to local heat flux rather than the changes in the influx of remote source waters. Given that the winter of 2002 was the warmest year on record (air-temperature wise) in New England and that 2003 was one of the coldest, it is no surprise that the subsequent springs resulted in warm and cold bottom temperatures, respectively. Given the large spatial coverage of eMOLT temperature records and the this coherent nature of their variability, it will be possible to make general statements on the gulf wide bottom temperature fields.
It is now possible, as demonstrated with computer animated graphics at annual forums this past spring, to visualize the hour-by-hour evolution of bottom water distributions in certain regions of our coast. These movie loops provide a revealing illustration of the power of the local wind in upwelling/downwelling cycles. The collection of over a dozen eMOLT records in Mass Bay, for example, together with the state of Massachusett's Division of Marine Fisheries records, demonstrated the episodic mixing and overturning that occurs in that area when the climatological summer wind is interrupted by periods of strong wind from the north. The abrupt warming of the bottom waters in early fall is evidently an annual occurrence but the timing of that event and the intensity of the change can vary from year to year.
What are the two most important sources of error associated with our data? How have we addressed each?
Summary of accomplishments:
Now that three years of temperature data and at least one year of salinity records are available, there are some interesting findings that are best described with the set of illustrations. Readers are encouraged to review last year's annual report for views of the data not included here.
The most disappointing aspect of the phase III component of eMOLT is a failure to implement the electronic logger protocol. In an effort to automate the mooring log procedure, a set of electronic logbooks were purchased specifically for the Mass Lobstermen Association (MaLA). Due to a combination of difficulties communicating with the manufacturers and the industry personnel involved, this segment of the phase III work did not produce a satisfactory result. Only 4-5 individuals accepted the unit so that the majority of the MaLA participants are still submitting paper log books. This less-than-favorable result is similar to that of other electronic logbook endeavors in the region. The Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen, for example, have abandoned their use of the electronic logbook and have reverted to ExCel spreadsheet documentation. The state of Maine's Division of Marine Resources is having difficulty in distributing these units to the indudtry in general. While the units have worked to some extent, the cost of maintaining the instrument and the time needed in entering the information apparently outweighs the benefits for the majority of the lobstermen. One lobstermen noted that he is "teched out", meaning that there is already too many electronic gadgets taking his time and space in the pilot house.
Phase III funding provided additional eMOLT support for a set of "industry representatives". These individuals were tasked with outreach activities. In earlier phases of eMOLT we had found that it is necessary to make contact with participants on a regular (near-biannual) basis to remind them of the protocol and the importance of the data they are collecting. Having a larger group of administrators allowed for personnel at multiple locations along the coast. Together with the "association representative" there was one or two of these "industry representatives" per association. In some cases this arrangement worked and in others it failed. Depending on the time and energy the individual had to devote to eMOLT task, industry representatives provided different degrees of effort and success. Having more administrators in some ways hampers the project since it requires more communication pathways and often leads to confusion. Having multiple forms of communication (phone, fax, email, mail, web, and in-person) can also lead to difficulties in followingthe thread of a communication. In the future phases of eMOLT, industry representatives will be not be specified at the proposal stage but will be supported by the association based on productivity.
As realized in the first two phases of the eMOLT project, outreach is essential. It is necessary to visit with participating individuals at either their homes, dockside, or at association meetings to remind them of the project and the importance of their data. While the project description has been posted on the internet along with the rationale, the manuals, and the results thus far, it is clearly not the best medium of getting the information to the public. In order to check on the progress of the outreach initiative, we have instituted a "quarterly administrators meetings" where we get together to review the outcome of our outreach efforts. This has been very helpful.
One new protocol we have added since the last annual report is a mailing of plots to each participant each time they submit data. Where in the past we have tried to email the participant and point to a web document and found that very few of them were able to get on line to view them, we now deliver hardcopys to their mailing address on a routine basis.
The obstacle of data sensitivity is real. We have incorporated the policy of other local agencies in adhering to the "rule of three" by which no position data is revealed from a particular area unless it is merged with two other samples. While this is not a problem with physical data (temperature and salinity), it will be necessary as we begin to compile & report site and haul information.
Since much of the effort on the part of the scientific party in the past few phases of eMOLT has been in development of the project web site (emolt.org) and the products produced have not been very helpful to the casual browser, we have recently benefitted by collaborating with the GoMOOS office in order to improve our web presence. They have graciously provided many hours of their programmers time to serve and display eMOLT data along with the GoMOOS buoy data. One can now click on an internet map of "lobster zones" and, by clicking on particular depth zone, view eMOLT temperature time series and zoom in on particular times/events. This service, currently posted at http://www.gomoos.org/emolt/emolt_map.shtml , is now live after a review by eMOLT administrators at a meeting on 13 June 2003. The old "results from the field" section on the emolt.org site will no longer be needed but all the other emolt.org postings will remain active.
Expected next steps:
To contribute to the effort on outreach, it seems necessary to include regular mailings to our project participants. We have included near-monthly articles on eMOLT in the association newsletters in the past but we now need to send the participants a separate mailing at least annually with information specific to their data (plots, tables, conclusions made, etc.). This will be especially helpful to those participants who do not have frequent access to the internet.
There is a real need to provide the participants with a more real time feedback of information. One strategy may be to develop a probe that displays realtime bottom temperature as it is hauled on deck (ie one with a programmed time delay to maintain the previous hour's record). A separate proposal has been submitted to NOAA Small Business Innovation Research Program to develop such a unit
In order to prepare our phase IV "drifter" proposal, we conducted a pilot study in early June 2003. With some seed funding provided by Lew Incze and Dennis McGillicuddy, we deployed nineteen drifters off the R/V OCEANUS to test the idea of lobstermen reporting drifters. At the time of this writing eleven lobstermen have reported sightings of the drifters as they move down the coast of Maine towards Massachusetts.
In summary, we hope to maintain the eMOLT project for years to come. The outlook for this type of "integrated ocean observing system" looks good in terms of NOAA's projected budgets in the next few years beginning in FY 2006. As noted at a recent GoMOOS-sponsored summit on ocean data networking (Portland, Me, 12-13 June 2003), the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy plans to propose the systems in their report to congress later this year. Projects such as eMOLT and GOMOOS have a head start on setting up infrastructure and personnel. We intend to partner with other institutions such as the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Maine DMR, Lobster Institute, Lobster Conservancy, and the Island Institute as we have done with GoMOOS this past year.
Resources or contact information:
Preproposal Submitted to NOAA's Small Business Innovation Research program to supplement NEC funding.
Bottom water temperature probe with real-time readout
Generations of New England lobstermen have noticed the abundance and activity of their prey respond to oceanographic events. Episodes of upwelling and downwelling, for example, along the coast of Maine apparently affect the distribution and migration of animals. The bottom water temperatures evidently change the movement and feeding cycles. With now over six million lobster traps in the Gulf of Maine alone, there are thousands of curious lobstermen.
We propose to develop a temperature probe that will retain bottom water values so that, as it is hauled on deck, lobstermen (or any type of fishermen) can determine the real-time bottom water record. Since there are several probes on the market that internally record temperature, the degree of engineering necessary to add a real-time display is minor. The probe can be developed to display temperatures recorded on the previous hour, for example, so that the reading is not biased by the upper water column or air temperatures as it is hauled up on deck.
The development of this probe would be a significant addition to a program already underway for the last three years called "Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps (eMOLT)" (see www.emolt.org). Over one hundred individuals have attached temperature probes to their traps and have the data downloaded 1-2 times per year. Many of these participants have expressed interest in
getting a more real time readout so that they do not have to wait several months lag before seeing the bottom water temperatures at any particular day.
The infrastructure that has made the eMOLT project work is the set of lobster associations. There are several organized groups throughout New England with monthly meetings and newsletters by which notices can be distributed to thousands of individuals. In addition to these regional groups there are annual forums/trade shows with hundreds of lobstermen attending. The combination of these associations and forums allows an easy communication between fishermen, scientist, and commercial enterprise.