Population Dynamics Branch: Coastal Pelagic Resources Task
Gary Shepherd, Supv., Research Fishery Biologist
The Coastal/Pelagic Resources Program provides information vital to the management of marine fishery resources worth many millions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Information on the current status and likely future trends of fishery resources, their distribution and other relevant biological information is used to better manage fisheries that provide income to commercial and recreational user groups. Resource and fishery information is provided to several management agencies in the Northwest Atlantic, including the NMFS Regional Office, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
This program has primary responsibility for stock assessments and related research for a variety of Mid Atlantic and New England species including Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel, butterfish, bluefish, striped bass, black sea bass, and others. This Program is responsible for monitoring the abundance of fish stocks, measuring the impact of fishing activity, evaluating interactions among the biological components of the ecosystem, and studying interactions among the several components of the fisheries. Data used in the evaluation of stock abundance and fishing activity are collected primarily by other components of NEFSC, NMFS and states. Additionally, the program employs information on biological and physical processes within the ecosystem developed by the other Divisions of the NEFSC to improve predictive capability. Frequent collaboration with both national and international colleagues is required. Mathematical and statistical models are used to evaluate hypotheses about the effects of environmental changes and fishing activity on fishery resources. Considerable effort is directed towards developing new methods. In example, the program enhances stock assessments for Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel by implementing hydroacoustics and other advanced technologies. The goal is to improve the accuracy and precision of assessments by investigating the spatial aspects of resource abundance and to verify the more traditional assessment methods.
Current information on the status of Northeast coastal/pelagic stocks is provided for inclusion in the online publication "Status of the Fishery Resources off the Northeastern United States". The members of the task provide evaluation of the effects of fishery management regulations on coastal/pelagic stocks through participation in regional fishery management council Plan Development Teams. Additionally, update and benchmark stock assessments of coastal/pelagic stocks are developed for periodic review by the Stock Assessment Review Committee (SARC). Other work includes providing technical information to the regional fishery management councils and ASMFC, review of proposals and reports for scientific research and monitoring programs funded by the NMFS and provide review and evaluation of biological sampling of the commercial fishery landings. Direct collaboration and/or coordination of activity occurs with Division Management; other READ, NEFSC and NMFS units, including Headquarters; state agencies and academic institutions; Fishery Management Councils and the ASMFC; Congressional offices and the fishing industry, and several international agencies, such as, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).