Study Fleet: General Data Collection and Support
Study Fleet has the capability to collect various types of biological information as well as having multiple collection efforts going on at the same time. Not only do our fishermen self report on catch data but we also have sea sampling technicians who are able to collect highly specific sets of data using our various resources.
Electronic Vessel Trip Reporting (eVTR)
This project is specifically focused on setting up Study Fleet vessels with electronic vessel trip reporting capabilities. The project will provide information and support to managers and industry members relative to electronic vessel trip reporting performance. A representative group of sectors (trawl vs. fixed gear from Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and Southern New England) is also being sought to assess the role and potential benefits of electronic reporing in sector monitoring. This project will assess the potential timeliness and data quality benefits of electronically submitted vessel trip reports.
Length & Weight Ratios
Study Fleet technicians collect lengths and weights for individual fish within all size ranges for commercially important species. Length-weight curves help scientist to estimate the condition of a fish stock. Depending on the shape of the curve it will suggest that the species in question is skinny or relatively robust in comparisons with previous data sets. In addition, this could point scientist to clues on a fishes’ diet and/or resource availability in the ecosystem. This also provides scientist with a huge data set that allows them to estimate a fish’s weight base on their length. Weights will vary based on age, season, sex and feeding activity which is taken into account.
Flatfish Biological Sampling
The Northeast Cooperative Research Program Study Fleet also collects important biological samples on flatfish that contribute to the stock assessment process. This program addresses the need to collect fish at the “right” time to measure reproductive output; specifically collecting 3 species (Yellowtail Flounder, Summer Flounder, Winter Flounder) from nine stocks areas during periods immediately preceding (or during) their spawning season (over 5500 samples to date). Initial research has refined stock-specific estimates of when fish become mature (during their lifetime) and when they spawn (during a given year). Continuing research is quantifying the scale of variation in the numbers of eggs produced, and evaluating the role of environmental and physiological factors regulating reproductive output.
Winter Flounder Lengths
Current regulations prohibit the landing of winter flounder in the Southern New England / Mid Atlantic winter flounder stock area. Commercial fishers are therefore unable to provide data on size composition, growth, and maturity, which are crucial components of the stock assessment. In order to address this specific data needed, the Study Fleet Program partners have obtained exempted fishing permits allowing for the collection of these data. Vessel partners and Study Fleet staff collect biological samples and length frequency information at a haul-by-haul level during a subset of commercial fishing activity where winter flounder are encountered.
Spiny Dogfish Sex Ratios
Synoptic dogfish sex ratio observations over a broad geographical range are desired. The objective is to identify opportunities to more selectively harvest these slow growing stocks and to reduce groundfish sector discards. This project will also provide tagging opportunities relating to stock structure and biological sampling.