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Sunday, March 26, 2017

NOAA awards SMAST scientists $1M for fisheries research

New science designed to improve management of scallop and flounder fisheries
EDITOR'S NOTE: Scientic research programs of this type are an endangered species under Trump's and the Republican Congress's budget priorities.

Researchers at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) have been awarded$1,049,044 in research funds through the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program.

Projects will address sea scallop research priorities established by the NEFMC for 2017 and 2018. Among these are resource surveys to estimate scallop biomass, projects addressing bycatch reduction, and work to improve understanding of scallop biology and recruitment.

Project summaries:

SMAST received three awards to conduct surveys using its drop-camera array. High resolution surveys of Closed Area I, Closed II, and the Elephant Trunk will be completed, as well as a broad-scale survey in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and Georges Bank. The scallop survey research is led by Dr. Kevin Stokesbury.

Expanding on previous sea scallop gray-meat research, SMAST will attempt to delineate the southern range of gray-meat occurrences and assess the growth, meat weights, and reproductive potential of animals found with gray meat in scallop populations. This project, led by Dr. Daniel Georgiana, will complement ongoing lab-based research funded last year.

SMAST, in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will develop a predictive model for scallop recruitment to improve the understanding of spawning and recruitment dynamics. Results could assist managers making management decisions. Dr. Changsheng Chen is the principal investigator for the project.

SMAST will explore how environmental, management, and behavioral factors influence sea scallop landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE) in an attempt to improve the accuracy of LPUE estimates. These estimates are used to help set overall fishery allocations, as well as the number of fishing days allocated for the Limited Access scallop fishery. Dr. Steven Cadrin and his team of researchers will collaborate with the sea scallop assessment working group so that information can be used in the 2018 sea scallop assessment.

Additionally, researchers at SMAST will study the swimming capabilities and behaviors of yellowtail and windowpane flounders in a new seawater tank facility. Dr. Pingguo He and his team will evaluate various aspects of swimming physiology, including speed and endurance, in an attempt to inform potential bycatch mitigation strategies and conservation engineering designs.