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Shelley Dawicki
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May 12, 2008
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Researchers Awarded NOAA Grant to Develop Alternative Sampling Methods to Determine Scup Populations in Southern New England Waters

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scup being measured
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Scup being measured. (Credit: Laura Skrobe, University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Sea Grant)
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NOAA Fisheries Service has awarded a $97,500 grant to a team of commercial fishermen and a researcher to test alternative sampling methods to assess more accurately the status of the scup population in southern New England waters.

Results of this research by commercial fishermen Charles Borden of  Little Compton, R.I.  and Eric Rodegast of Oak Bluffs, Mass., and Laura Skrobe of Rhode Island Sea Grant could significantly improve research surveys of this species. The researchers will work from June through October in ten separate hard-bottom sites in southern New England that are currently not sampled by other finfish trawl surveys because of the rough topography.
Scup spend a majority of the summer in inshore hard bottom areas, and are fished by commercial and recreational fisherman. Also known as porgy, scup can grow to 18 inches in length and weigh three to four pounds, but more typically weigh about one pound and grow to 8-12 inches in length.

Two additional sites, located on the scup spawning grounds in Vineyard Sound, will be sampled for a one-month period from mid-May through mid-June.  The length- frequency distribution of the catch will be compared statistically to each of the other collection sites, to finfish trawl data collected by NOAA Fisheries Service, and to data collected during a similar project conducted during 2007 by the same researchers.

Catch allocations allowed under this grant include 64,000 pounds of scup, 2,000 pounds of summer flounder, and 24,000 pounds of black sea bass for a total allowable catch of 90,000 pounds.

For each fishing year, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council may set aside up to three percent of the total allowable landings in certain Mid-Atlantic fisheries to be used for research purposes under the Research Set-Aside (RSA) program, which provides a way to fund research and compensate vessel owners through the sale of fish harvested under the research quota.
The grant is one of three awarded under the 2008 Mid-Atlantic RSA program by NOAA Fisheries through its cooperative research program to further the understanding of the nation’s fisheries, enhance information used in fisheries management decision-making, and foster collaborations among marine fisheries interests.

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