Promoting sustainable fisheries through timely information and guidance to protect, conserve, and manage the Commonwealth A partnership between UMass Dartmouthâ€™s School for Marine Science & Technology and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
of Massachusettsâ€™ marine and coastal resources.
The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI) was established in 2002 as a partnership between the University of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth’s Division of Marine Fisheries. The goal of the MFI is to promote sustainable fisheries through scientific study and to provide timely information and guidance to protect, conserve, and manage Massachusetts and New England fisheries and their habitats in a manner that balances economic, environmental, and cultural interests of the Commonwealth’s citizens. Now, 15 years later, after much collaboration and planning, the University’s School for Marine Science & Technology and the Division of Marine Fisheries are residing together at new and newly renovated facilities in the New Bedford South End, and continue, through our partnership, to promote interaction, communication, and cooperative research to advance the state of science supporting fisheries management and sustainability. Being located in the nation’s top-valued port, the MFI is ideally situated to fulfill its mission as a research and educational institution addressing science and policy questions. Our students advance their academic and professional careers in fields of study benefiting the Commonwealth’s commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as advancing scientific understanding of the fisheries resources on which they depend. The MFI continues to make exciting advances in quantitative fisheries science and provides an essential forum to represent the various perspectives of the research community, federal and state fishery managers, fishing industry, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders in marine fisheries. We are pleased to provide this brochure highlighting our achievements and MFI initiatives. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Steven E. Lohrenz & David E. Pierce Marine Fisheries Institute Co-Chairs
Images of cod swimming into a commercial fishing net are captured with the open codend video trawl system.
Cover photo courtesy of Ellenzweig
Overview School for Marine Science & Technology and UMass Dartmouth UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) is a nationally and internationally renowned institution for research and graduate education in marine sciences, fisheries, and ocean technology. SMAST is the largest marine science program in the UMass system, offering MS and PhD programs and receives approximately $6 million of external funding annually for its cutting-edge work. In addition to the scholarly marine science and technology communities, the SMAST mission emphasizes interaction with industry and government and non-governmental agencies on compelling regional marine-related issues and technological development. Since opening in 1997, SMAST scientists have helped sustain the fishing industry, allowing New Bedford to retain its position as the highest valued fishing port in the nation.
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries of the Commonwealth’s Department of Fish and Game manages the state’s living marine resources. Coastal and marine-related activities are critical to the economy and quality of life for the Commonwealth. The state’s combined economic impact of the coastal and marine economies has been estimated to exceed $130 billion and directly employs more than 1.3 million people. The Division of Marine Fisheries manages commercial and recreational fishing activity in balance with the environment resulting in sustainable fisheries and contributions to our economy, stable availability of diverse, healthy seafood and enriched opportunities that support our coastal culture. The Division of Marine Fisheries is responsible for the development and promulgation of the Commonwealth’s fisheries regulations and promotes innovation, collaboration, research and leadership to enrich the public’s way of life.
UMass Dartmouth is a Carnegiedesignated national doctoral research university. The University is ranked as a Tier 1 National Research University, and distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research. UMass Dartmouth’s mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.
UMass Dartmouth, with its expanded School for Marine Science & Technology and many other innovation assets and partners, is poised to lead the development of the blue economy in Massachusetts and beyond.” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson
Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute Partnership Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, a cooperative venture between UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, promotes sustainable fisheries by providing timely information needed to protect, conserve, and manage Massachusetts marine and coastal resources in a manner that balances the economic, environmental, and cultural interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The information is gathered through interdisciplinary research that examines the interaction between marine organisms and their environments.
The partnership between the Commonwealth’s Division of Marine Fisheries and UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology educates the next generation of marine scientists and greatly improves our understanding of the marine environment through its collaboration with the fishing industry and research community. The Marine Fisheries Institute provides us invaluable information as our administration continues to protect the Commonwealth’s coastal waters, ensure sustainable fisheries and promote the prosperity of our fishing industry and communities.”
Governor Charlie Baker & Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
These application-oriented studies enable scientists to understand the underlying processes and implement timely solutions. The Institute focuses on addressing critical issues related to Massachusetts fisheries and fishing communities, including fostering a cooperative working relationship among scientists, government, fishermen, and environmentalists. Marine Fisheries Institute researchers are highly productive in a variety of areas.
Through this partnership, the Marine Fisheries Institute: (1) Develops scientifically-based, innovative, and practical fisheries management applications contributing to scientific understanding, management, economic growth and sustainability of our oceans and communities; (2) Educates, trains, and positions graduate students (MS and PhD) to assume important fisheries science and management roles in Massachusetts, throughout New England, and in other regions through their research, scientific publications and employment, especially with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries, and the New England Fishery Management Council; (3) Promotes interaction, communication, and cooperative research with the fishing industry and encourages respect for fishermen and their families who persevere despite being heavily regulated and subject to the vagaries of the demanding physical environment in which they work; (4) Develops and sustains partnerships with the fishing industry, federal agencies and non-governmental organizations as keys to Marine Fisheries Institute initiatives and their success; and (5) Draws upon fisheries professionals in state and federal agencies to mentor and teach UMass graduate students by sharing experiences and preparing them for applied fisheries research and fisheries management/policy career opportunities.
The Marine Fisheries Institute formed the Advisory Council in 2013 to include perspectives from a wide range of collaborating scientists, regulators, and fishermen. The Advisory Council meets with the Executive Committee biannually to receive updates on research and education goals, assist in research project review and prioritization, provide input on funding opportunities and expand existing and prospective collaborations. The Advisory Council consists of approximately 20 individuals, representing federal and state fisheries scientists and managers, commercial and recreational fishing interests, environmental non-government organizations, and faculty and staff from various departments and campuses of the University of Massachusetts.
Research & Management Topics • Benthic habitat
Co-Chairs Steven E. Lohrenz is Dean of the School for Marine Science & Technology. Lohrenz earned his PhD in 1985 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His research focuses on the study of biological distributions and productivity, as well as cycling of carbon and nutrients in coastal and ocean waters using ship-based measurements and optical and remotely sensed observations. David E. Pierce is Director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. A native of New Bedford, Pierce earned his PhD in environmental sciences from the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 1972, he joined the Division of Marine Fisheries, initially serving as a marine biologist prior to advancing to a position devoted to marine fisheries policy and management. He was appointed Director in 2015.
• Climate change impacts • Conservation engineering • Ecosystem-based science • Marine habitat assessments • Ocean environment and planning • Resource surveys • Scallop, groundfish and pelagic fishery management • Stock assessment • Sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries
Executive Committee Kevin D. E. Stokesbury – Research Director, is a Professor at the School for Marine Science & Technology. Stokesbury received his PhD in 1994 from the Universite Laval, Quebec. Stokesbury concentrates on marine biology/ecology focusing on fisheries, including scallop population dynamics and life history studies.
Steven X. Cadrin – Education Director, is the Fisheries Oceanography Department Chair and a Professor at the School of Marine Science & Technology. Cadrin received his PhD in 2003 from the University of Rhode Island. Cadrin specializes in general fisheries science that is relevant to resource management, population modeling of fishery resources, spatial population structure and movement, and collaborative research with fishermen.
Michael P. Sissenwine – Distinguished Senior Scientist, earned his PhD in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1975. Additionally, he has served as Director of Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor for the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, Director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, President and Chair of the ICES Advisory Committee and visiting scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Cate E. O’Keefe – Policy Director, is a Marine Science and Policy Analyst for the Division of Marine Fisheries. She is an adjunct professor at the School for Marine Science & Technology where she received her PhD in 2013. O’Keefe serves on several regional technical and policy committees, and assists in implementing MFI policies related to strengthening the Division of Marine Fisheries and SMAST partnership focused on scientific research, education, and collaboration with the fishing industry.
Researchers work on a wide range of model applications, from water-quality studies in estuaries to basin-scale circulation simulations. Dr. Changsheng Chen and collaborator Dr. Robert Beardsley developed the worldclass oceanographic modeling capabilities using the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM). The model simulates the behavior of the coastal ocean and has also helped locate a downed Air France jet, assist Olympic sailing teams, and chart the motion of coastal water of Massachusetts and around the globe. The world-renowned FVCOM is freely available and used by numerous researchers and institutions.
The oceans play a key role in our coastal economy and way of life, and are undergoing dramatic changes related to climate and human activity. By bringing our faculty, students and staff together with our partners at the Division of Marine Fisheries, we better position the University, Commonwealth and region to understand and respond to these changes.”
Steven E. Lohrenz, Dean of SMAST
Facilities The new 64,115-square-feet facility to support the Marine Fisheries Institute collaborative opened on Clark’s Cove in New Bedford in the fall of 2017. In addition to serving as a major marine science hub in New Bedford— the nation’s #1 valued fishing port—the joint facility is a haven for the community of scientists and students who partner with agencies around the region on marine science-related issues. More than 150 faculty, students, and staff of SMAST and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries work together to engage in education, research, and policy related to commercial and recreational fishing, coastal preservation, ocean observation, and climate change. The facility also enables SMAST and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to: • Greatly expand the capabilities for marine research • Accommodate growth of research programs and faculty • Replace and expand existing seawater research laboratory • Expand classroom teaching and public outreach • Promote partnership between Division of Marine Fisheries and SMAST programs
Photo courtesy of Ellenzweig
The facility includes wet, dry and computational laboratories, classroom and office space, conference and public hearing room areas, and a seawater research laboratory.
Research The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute focuses on application-based research to enhance scientific knowledge and promote sustainable fisheries management. Collaboration with commercial and recreational fishing partners is critical to the research mission and fosters a balance of perspectives about the marine environment. Researchers are dedicated to utilizing the expertise of the fishing industry to assist in the development and use of innovative sampling and monitoring tools, modeling applications, harvesting techniques and data collection methods. Research products from the Marine Fisheries Institute are nationally and internationally recognized, and have been applied to address marine science and management questions in the Commonwealth and globally for nearly two decades.
Surveys Scallop Video Survey The US sea scallop fishery is managed under an area rotation system requiring spatiallyspecific information on scallop density and size. Working with the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, Dr. Kevin Stokebury’s Marine Fisheries Field Research Group developed a video survey using techniques based on SCUBA diving studies that provide spatially explicit, accurate, precise, absolute estimates of sea scallop density and size distributions along the off-shore northeast waters of the United States. Using underwater video cameras on a sampling pyramid lowered from fishing vessels, researchers estimate the numbers of animals at different sizes and where they are located. The SMAST-Industry cooperative video survey provides quality-controlled estimates of scallop size, distribution, density and biomass to assist in the management of the scallop resource.
Since 1999, SMAST has surveyed the scallop resource on Georges Bank and in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, with support from the commercial sea scallop industry, the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, and the Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set Aside Program (NOAA grants). This unique database covers the entire US scallop resource (~70,000 km2). The survey protocol and results have been published in more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Over 200 students, scientists, and fishermen have collaborated on the project, which has moved beyond scallops and is supporting the New England Fisheries Management Council’s Habitat Management Plan, the Nature Conservancy’s Ocean Data Portal (http:// www.northeastoceandata.org) and serves as the baseline habitat information for offshore wind farm environmental impact analysis.
The high-resolution scallop video survey has helped revolutionize the understanding of the continental shelf marine habitat.
“ “ SMAST’s continued independent research on groundfish populations is critical to our regional economy as the commercial fishing industry experiences unprecedented consolidation.”
State Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford
The Division of Marine Fisheries has learned through our relationships and experiences with SMAST faculty, researchers, and students that their work is exemplary and a great supplement to Division of Marine Fisheries scientific and fishery management expertise and our own research, often including fishermen and their vessels.”
David Pierce, Director of Division of Marine Fisheries
Open Cod-End Video Trawl Survey In January 2017, SMAST scientists and fishermen, with support from the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, successfully deployed a new video system to measure the Atlantic cod population, helping regulators manage the fishery. The Gulf of Maine cod population has declined in recent years due to the changing climate, fishing pressure, and shifts in prey distribution. Large-scale survey methods, designed to assess the status of the overall ecosystem, may not provide the fine-scale resolution needed to assess small populations of
individual species, like cod. The open codend video trawl survey was designed to allow high density sampling of fish populations by placing a video camera system inside a commercial groundfish trawl net with the goal of accurately identifying and counting fish as they pass through the open net unharmed. The system, collaboratively developed by scientists and fishermen, with funding from the Massachusetts Congress and Baer-Polito administration, has been tested
on Stellwagen Bank, a fishing ground located in the Gulf of Maine, and on Georges Bank. The net is towed over the fishing grounds, and the cameras record the number and size of the fish swimming through. Periodically the net is closed to collect biological samples such as length and weight measurements. The videos are then analyzed to provide estimates of the abundance, density, and size distribution of commercially valuable groundfish species, as well as the impacts of commercial fishing.
Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Matthew Beaton (left), and pastCommissioner of the Department of Fish & Game, George Peterson (right), sampling cod on the Industry-Based Survey with Division of Marine Fisheries biologist, Micah Dean.
Industry-Based Groundfish Survey The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries launched their second Gulf of Maine cod Industry-Based Survey in April 2016, funded in part by the Groundfish Disaster Economic Assistance Program and the Commonwealthâ€™s Baker-Polito Administration, as another method to survey the Gulf of Maine cod population and address fishermenâ€™s concerns about commercial catch quotas. This is a renewed effort to examine cod in the Gulf of Maine using identical gear and protocols as the first survey, conducted from 2003-2007, with a new sampling design that
increases the amount of spatial information about the cod population. While the main focus is on cod, the survey collects information on several groundfish species in the Gulf of Maine, including flounder and haddock. Providing a robust independent estimate of cod stock size will be extremely valuable for interpreting the existing scientific advice about the stock. Furthermore, the use of consistent gear and protocols will allow for comparison between the two separate survey time periods, which span the various changes in management, environment, and federal surveys.
A primary goal of the survey is to provide information useful to the management and assessment of Gulf of Maine groundfish that is credible to fishermen, scientists, and managers. Marine Fisheries Institute researchers are currently exploring methods to integrate the open cod-end video trawl survey and the Industry-Based Survey. Using advanced modeling techniques, the results from the fine-scale video trawl survey can be combined with the broad-scale Industry-Based Survey to provide a comprehensive estimate of the size and distribution of the Gulf of Maine cod population.
Bycatch Reduction Herring Fishery Bycatch Avoidance
The F/V Miss Emily, a commercial groundfish vessel, was contracted to conduct the Industry-Based Groundfish Survey.
Herring fishery bycatch avoidance program lead, Bradley Schondelmeier (Division of Marine Fisheries, right) reviewing electronic reporting protocols with a mid-water trawl fisherman aboard the F/V Western Venture.
River herring (alewife and blueback herring) and American shad are ecologically and culturally significant fishes of the Atlantic Coast. However, these fishes are considered depleted and an increased focus has been placed on limiting their accidental catch (bycatch) in commercial fisheries. In the Atlantic herring and mackerel fisheries, if a certain amount of river herring and shad are caught, substantial portions or all areas of these fisheries are closed to fishermen using mid-water trawl gear. To balance conservation and resource utilization, the Marine Fisheries Institute began a partnership in 2010 with mid-water and bottom trawl fishermen from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to implement a near-real time river herring and shad bycatch avoidance program. The program aggregates catch data and communicates the location of high bycatch events to all participating vessels so that these areas can be avoided.
Results indicate that consistent outreach and communication, facilitated by the avoidance program, positively influences fishing habits and has played a role in decreased bycatch since the program started. In addition to helping fishermen avoid bycatch and area closures, the project has greatly increased the data available to monitor bycatch by including support for portside sampling. The research team continues to portside sample at least 50% of mid-water trawl trips landed in Massachusetts, and has been working to advance the applications of the communication system for river herring habitat forecasting. The project was started with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and continued with funding by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and The Nature Conservancy. It is now sustained by the Atlantic Herring Research Set Aside program.
Scallop Fishery Bycatch Avoidance Bycatch of flounder has constrained the sea scallop fishery since 1999. Between 2004 and 2009, bycatch closures resulted in economic losses of over US $100 million. To address this constraint, Marine Fisheries Institute researchers collaborated with the scallop fishing industry to initiate a bycatch avoidance program in 2010, and designed a system to collect information on flounder bycatch that relies upon the fishing fleet to provide data on catch and fishing locations. The team compiles the information and provides near real-time bycatch advisories to
Dr. Michael Pol (Division of Marine Fisheries) and Dr. Pingguo He (SMAST) tested a sorting grid inside of a fishing net to reduce bycatch of flounder.
the fleet. Vessels gain valuable information from all participants, which they can use to avoid bycatch “hotspots.” The program has the ability to cover all the fishing areas that overlap with flounder stocks, and includes over 250 fishery participants that voluntarily share information during years when flounder bycatch threatens to impact the scallop fishery. The project has been funded through the Scallop Research Set Aside grant program and donations from the fishing industry.
Fishermen pick through piles of scallops on deck to remove bycatch and other debris.
Conservation Engineering for Better Fishing Gear The Division of Marine Fisheries Conservation Engineering Project and SMAST’s Fish Behavior and Conservation Engineering Laboratory collaborate frequently on projects to support the commercial fishing industry and fishery management through improvements to commercial fishing gears to reduce ecosystem impacts and other unintended effects of commercial fishing. Working closely with the fishing fleet, these two programs develop and test innovations to trawls, gillnets, longlines,
and other fishing gears and fishing practices, reaching for win-win solutions that increase efficiency and profitability while at the same time protecting vulnerable fish stocks. The two Massachusetts teams have led international research efforts through the International Council for the Exploration of Seas (ICES) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation’s Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behavior to support and promote the latest
innovations on fishing gear technology. This collaboration has resulted in successful competitive proposals for federal research funding to test innovations from around the world, including off-bottom trawls, floating bridles, dual grid systems, and others. The work of these programs has been used by fishermen to promote special fishing access programs and to reduce fuel costs during fishing, and by managers to reduce bycatch and discards in various fisheries.
Acadian redfish, a healthy under-exploited stock, are hauled aboard a commercial vessel using gear that specifically targets the healthy fish.
Monkfish Growth and Movement The “Estimating the growth and movement of monkfish” project involves tagging juvenile monkfish to allow researchers to estimate growth, track movement patterns, and examine mixing rates between the southern and northern management areas in inshore and offshore southern New England and Gulf of Maine waters throughout various times of the year. Scientists worked with commercial gillnet fishermen to tag approximately 2,500 juvenile monkfish. The project is a collaboration with monkfish fishermen, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and the Division of Marine Fisheries, and is managed in coordination with the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.
Population Dynamics The Marine Fisheries Institute continues to focus research efforts on improving the understanding of biological processes, ecological interactions, and population dynamics of marine species in the Northeast region. Studies focused on estimating reproductive behavior, growth rates, movement patterns, and mortality have contributed to the general scientific knowledge about life cycles of several species and been applied to refine management strategies for stocks throughout the region. Innovative sampling and monitoring techniques, designed and deployed in collaboration with the fishing industry, play a key role in the Institute’s approach to advance overall understanding of population dynamics. Mark-recapture methods, which allow researchers to identify individual animals and estimate population size, have provided new insights on the behavior and life cycles of several species, including cod, haddock, monkfish, scallops, and sharks. Acoustic and satellite tagging tools used in the Marine Fisheries Institute’s research provide a wealth of information about the behavior of animals, allowing for fine-scale management in time and space. Complementing such fine scale information with fishermen’s ecological knowledge is a unique approach employed by the Marine Fisheries Institute to generate a holistic understanding of population dynamics.
Cod Reproduction Despite the commercial importance of Georges Bank cod, relatively little is known about the spawning patterns of the population. To address this question, scientists at the Marine Fisheries Institute interviewed 40 fishing captains from New York to Nova Scotia with experience fishing for cod on Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals. The fishermen had detailed knowledge about when and where cod spawn, and identified a number of fine-scale spawning grounds that were associated with specific habitat features. The spawning grounds identified by the fishermen generally agreed with information from previous scientific research, but the fishermen also uncovered spawning grounds that had not been reported in the scientific literature. The results of this project can be used to guide future research, inform fishery management decisions, and identify habitats that are critical for cod spawning.
The results of the cod reproduction work have direct relevance to the way we monitor these fisheries resources and the way these fisheries are managed when it comes to protecting spawning behavior and conserving different spawning components, and accurately modeling the population dynamics.”
Steven Cadrin, SMAST Professor
New Bedford fisherman, Manuel Vinagre (right), provided information on cod spawning grounds to Division of Marine Fisheries researchers, Dr. Greg DeCelles (left) and David Martens (center), to assist in the cod reproduction study.
Dr. Steve Cadrin (SMAST; left) and Dr. Doug Zemeckis (MFI researcher; right) display a cod with a data storage tag.
Marine Fisheries Institute research is focusing on mortality rates of cusk, which can experience increased internal pressure as they are brought to the surface during fishing activities.
Groundfish Discard Mortality In collaboration with researchers from the New England Aquarium and the University of New England, Marine Fisheries Institute researchers conducted several projects on discard mortality. The initial project, focused on cod, was a spinoff of previous research on winter and spring cod spawning behavior. By catching, tagging and releasing fish, researchers can track individual animals and estimate the portion of fish that die after release. This technique was also applied to haddock and cusk. The resulting discard mortality estimates from these studies have been used to refine the stock assessments and improve fisheries management decisions for the Gulf of Maine recreational fisheries.
Scallop Life History Sea scallop life history research examines growth, predation, and reproduction. Fishermen say that scallops grow at different rates in different areas. The sea scallop tagging studies estimated growth rates of scallops in particular regions of Georges Bank and the Mid-Atlantic Bight to enhance the rotational fisheries management strategy. Similarly, scallop reproduction and mortality from predators, such as starfish and crustaceans, varies spatially. Exploration of scallop beds in marine protected areas as well as commercially exploited areas with the SMAST scallop video survey has produced a dataset for the analysis of reproductive success and predation levels in unfished vs. fished populations of sea scallops.
SMAST students have tagged thousands of scallops on Georges Bank to determine growth rates and movement patterns.
Fish Stock Assessment The marine fisheries of Massachusetts rely on scientific advice for well-informed fisheries management. Marine Fisheries Institute scientists help to meet this need by contributing to fish stock assessments, which provide estimates of fish abundance and fishery harvest rates. Estimating the number of fish in the sea is challenging, and requires the combination of fish biology, fishery monitoring, and fish surveys. Scientists participate in technical teams that sample fish at sea and at the docks. They analyze the data with mathematical models of the population and the fishery, and provide fishery management advice for sustainable and productive harvests.
The Marine Fisheries Institute partnership facilitates the advancement of scientific methods for application in stock assessment, including new sampling technologies, advanced statistical models, and close collaboration with the fishing industry. SMAST faculty provide introductory and advanced training in the theory and practice of stock assessment, and students participate in working groups and stock assessment technical teams. Scientists contribute to assessments of a wide range of fisheries that are important to Massachusetts through regional and international scientific organizations. Stock assessment plays a central role in fisheries science, and the Marine Fisheries Institute contributes valuable expertise to help inform the management of Massachusetts fisheries.
A great white shark photographed by Division of Marine Fisheries researchers off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Sharks have unique pigmentation that allows researchers to identify individual animals.
Shark Population Assessment Over the past decade the coastal waters off Cape Cod, have emerged as the only known seasonal aggregation site for the white shark in the western North Atlantic. In 2014, the Division of Marine Fisheriesâ€™ Massachusetts Shark Research Program began a five-year mark-recapture study to estimate the abundance and distribution of white sharks in state waters. Mark-recapture methods are based on reconstructing encounter histories of individual sharks, which are â€œmarkedâ€? via tagging or identification of natural marks, such as a unique physical characteristic or pigmentation patterns. Since the start of the program, over 250 individual white sharks have been identified from video footage captured off the Cape. Researchers have also tagged nearly 100 sharks with individually-coded acoustic transmitters to examine site fidelity, residency, and movements along the Cape and the eastern
seaboard of the United States and Canada. Working in collaboration with researchers at SMAST, the Massachusetts Shark Research Program is developing improved population assessment methods for white sharks, which will integrate data collected during concurrent aerial surveys and from tagged individuals to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the status and dynamics of the population. This study will provide the first baseline estimate of the size of the white shark population off Cape Cod. Additional collaboration on the study includes the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a Massachusetts non-profit organization committed to supporting scientific research, improving public safety, and educating the public about the presence of white sharks in the waters off Cape Cod.
Ocean Planning and Ecosystem Science Changing ocean conditions require foresight and flexibility in science, management and education approaches. The Marine Fisheries Institute continues to be at the forefront of the science/policy interface to address the needs of the commercial and recreational fishing industries, coastal communities, and general public on issues related to ocean planning, climate change and ecosystem science. The unique partnership between the Commonwealth’s fisheries regulatory agency and UMass’ flagship marine program promotes a science-based decision-making process for determining best practices for ocean planning.
Marine Fisheries Institute managers, researchers and students contribute to the growing and changing field of ecosystem-based science and management. The co-chairs serve on federal, regional and state ocean planning boards and have contributed to the development of national and local ocean planning initiatives. By focusing research on the impacts of changing climate on fish and shellfish, and utilization of marinehabitat-derived energy sources, the Marine Fisheries Institute is positioned to assist Massachusetts in leading the nation towards more sustainable management of ocean resources.
We know that communities and ecosystems in Massachusetts will be hard hit by the effects of climate change, from rising sea levels to changing fish habitats. Tackling these threats will require all of us to work together in finding and implementing solutions, and we are counting on the scientists and students at SMAST to lead the effort.” Elizabeth Warren U.S. Senator
Researchers are examining impacts from changing ocean conditions on early-stage lobster recruitment.
Climate Change Researchers from SMAST are collaborating with scientists at NOAA Fisheries to apply ecosystem models to determine the effects of changing ocean conditions in the Northeast. Atlantis, a model of the continental shelf system from Cape Hatteras to the Gulf of Maine, links ocean dynamics and nutrient flows to a dynamic description of the entire food web and human marine activities. Researchers use the model for scenario analysis to evaluate effects of warming ocean temperature and ocean acidification on a range of species, including sea scallops, lobster, crabs and other shellfish, and the fisheries that these resources support. The goal is to address direct and indirect effects of species’ responses to changing ocean conditions, including acidification, species distribution shifts, and populations dynamics.
A collaborative effort led by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which includes the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, along with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, is focused on examining how early-stage lobster recruitment is impacted by warming ocean waters. Additionally, the Division of Marine Fisheries, University of New Hampshire, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is focusing research on the potential effects of lobster shell disease, which may be influenced by changing ocean conditions, on reproductive success in the southern New England lobster stock.
Habitat Conservation and Mapping The Division of Marine Fisheries uses side scan sonar and underwater video to map the shallow coastal seafloor habitats of Massachusetts. Side scan sonar emits a sonar pulse that echoes off of the seafloor in a wide beam. It can create an acoustic image of the seafloor in wide swaths up to 200 meters wide. The priority coastal habitat is eelgrass, which provides shelter and forage for many fish and bird species. Eelgrass is in a state of decline statewide, so keeping track of the size of each meadow is important to target conservation and restoration efforts. This work is supported in part by the National Estuaries Program.
The School for Marine Science & Technology has collaborated with regional and national organizations on the project, “Offshore Video Survey and Oceanographic Analysis: Georges Bank to the Chesapeake.” The project introduced spatial data products that will significantly advance the understanding of marine habitats and ecological function in the Northwest Atlantic, from the northern edge of Georges Bank to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. This collaborative study with partners from The Nature Conservancy, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Alaska Pacific University, provides new information about several species groups
Regions with high benthic biodiversity were identified though the project, “Offshore Video Survey and Oceanographic Analysis.”
observed in the SMAST scallop video survey. The project also provides a comprehensive baseline of information on the benthic habitat and associated oceanographic conditions on the U.S. Northeast Shelf at a scale that is useful to fisheries managers, spatial planners, and the wider community of stakeholders. Combining results from the Marine Fisheries Institute’s inshore and offshore habitat mapping efforts has provided a comprehensive analysis of the critical benthic organism and essential fish habitat regions to support fisheries and ocean resource use management decisions.
An eelgrass meadow in Sandwich, MA. (Photo credit Eric Nelson, EPA).
Offshore Wind Energy The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has risen as a national leader in the development of offshore wind energy facilities. Under the jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, several offshore wind energy areas have been leased to companies to supply energy to the U.S. east coast using ports in Massachusetts as the hubs for staging, energy transfer, and long-term maintenance facilities. The Marine Fisheries Institute is involved in several aspects of offshore wind energy development, including baseline characterization surveys of benthic habitat and species diversity and distribution, educating the commercial and recreational fishing industries about the benefits and challenges associated with offshore wind turbines, and assisting energy companies in identifying possible routes for underground cables. The Division of Marine Fisheries and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management are working closely to address the state waters components of wind energy development, and researchers from SMAST have provided information
about important commercial and recreational fishing areas in federal waters. The Marine Fisheries Institute will continue to serve an important role in balancing the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders for the future development and implementation of offshore wind energy.
The Marine Fisheries Institute educates, trains, and positions graduate students pursuing master’s and doctorate degrees to assume important fisheries science and management roles in Massachusetts, throughout New England, and in other regions nationally and internationally, through their research, scientific publications and employment. The Institute assists in ensuring the fishing industry is managed and regulated by highly trained, competent scientists to address complex needs in a variety of fields, including fish stock assessment, ecosystem modeling, habitat impact assessment, and socioeconomic research. Students are grounded with a hands-on understanding of the Commonwealth’s fishing industry–including its current and historical importance, and the problems that can be addressed and resolved through better science and management approaches. SMAST faculty consist of world-renowned stock assessment scientists, survey methods experts, and fishing gear specialists. Graduate students have the opportunity to study applied fisheries research in the top-valued port in the nation with the collaboration of the fishing industry and the Commonwealth’s fisheries management agency. Additionally, the Marine Fisheries Institute draws upon fisheries professionals in state and federal agencies to mentor and teach UMass graduate students.
Graduate Programs SMAST’s mission is to create a collaborative interdisciplinary environment in which scientists and graduate students pursue a range of basic to practical ocean-related research through the integration of theory, observations, experimentation and modeling. SMAST offers world-class academic options, including master’s- and doctoral-level degree programs, as well as an Intercampus Marine Science program. Students have the opportunity to take courses and pursue cross-disciplinary studies that involve two departments at SMAST, other science and engineering departments at UMass Dartmouth, and other University of Massachusetts campuses. Departments: • Department of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences • Department of Fisheries Oceanography Degree options: • PhD in Marine Science and Technology • Dual PhD Program with University of São Paulo Institute of Oceanography • Master of Science in Marine Science and Technology • Professional Science Masters in Coastal and Ocean Administration, Science and Technology Graduate education in fisheries-related fields is advanced through scholastic efforts, including: • Participation by Division of Marine Fisheries scientists in SMAST graduate and post-doctoral advising and teaching • Promoting graduate education opportunities to Commonwealth employees • Offering career opportunities for UMass graduates at the Division of Marine Fisheries
Percentage of SMAST graduates and current students supported by the MFI* 39% of graduates with a PhD 48% of graduates with an MS 32% of students currently pursuing a PhD
In addition to the Marine Fisheries Institute’s contributions to research, the Institute has also been a vehicle for advancing graduate education in fisheries-related fields. This includes direct involvement by and support of students in Marine Fisheries Institute research and workshop activities, participation by Division of Marine Fisheries scientists in graduate and post-doctoral advising and development of courses, enrollment of Division of Marine Fisheries personnel in graduate programs, as well as other educational efforts.”
Steven E. Lohrenz, Dean of SMAST
Our Marine Fisheries Institute partnership has many benefits, one being opportunities for Division of Marine Fisheries staff to teach graduate students and help them focus on research with Division of Marine Fisheries professionals. This integrative effort provides answers pertaining to how best to use fishing industry expertise for improved fisheries management and sustainable fisheries. The end result, especially for the New Bedford area, is more and better informed research and management— be it for sea scallops, groundfish, or any other fisheries resource on which the industry relies.”
David Pierce, Director of Division of Marine Fisheries
23% of students currently pursuing an MS * Statistics as of winter 2016. Placement rates are based on 146 individuals total.
Outreach Fisheries Management The Marine Fisheries Institute has a strong commitment to commercial and recreational fisheries and habitat management throughout the New England region. From recommending research topics aimed at improving stock assessments to working on technical teams that develop options for managing specific fisheries to serving on federal and interstate management bodies, the Marine Fisheries Institute is a regional leader in contributing to sustainable fisheries. The Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries serves on the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Staff members from the Division of Marine Fisheries and SMAST serve on several fishery management plan oversight committees, plan development teams, and advisory panels. These technical teams develop and analyze options for improving fishery efficiency, reducing bycatch, and managing catch limits. The Scientific and Statistical Committees
of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Councils have included several members of the Marine Fisheries Institute in the last decade who have helped usher in new management measures under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In addition to the Marine Fisheries Institute’s leadership role in regional fisheries management, the Institute contributes to national and international science and management efforts. Marine Fisheries Institute leaders serve on National Ocean Planning efforts, serve as Board members to nationally-recognized marine science organizations, and participate in activities organized by the national Academy of Sciences. Several Marine Fisheries Institute representatives have also worked with the International Council for Exploration of the Seas, International Commission for the Conservation of Tunas, Transboundary Resource Assessment Committee, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
An expanded UMass Dartmouth marine science presence in New Bedford means expanded research and education initiatives focused on fisheries, offshore wind, climate resiliency, and other issues that pose both challenges and opportunities for our coastal communities.” Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
The Marine Fisheries Institute annually participates in New Bedford’s Working Waterfront Festival to showcase new and ongoing research, provide education materials, and engage the public in the activities of the Commonwealth’s marine resources. (Photo Credit: workingwaterfrontfetival.org)
Safety training courses for commercial fishermen have been held in the seawater tank at the SMAST facility in the south end of New Bedford for over a decade.
The Marine Fisheries Institute provides not only opportunities for research, but also a community presence through school programs, safety training classes, and educational events. Our researchers, faculty, and students are involved in public outreach from the regional to the national level. Consistent participation in New Bedford’s Working Waterfront Festival, the Boston Seafood Festival, and the Massachusetts Marine Educator’s Annual High School Science Symposium have showcased our world-class research to a wide range of stakeholders and K-12 students. The Division of Marine Fisheries’ Seafood Marketing Program, launched in 2016, has engaged seafood dealers, restaurants, and a variety of organizations to promote consumption of sustainable seafood stocks and educate the public on the health benefits of eating seafood. Additionally, the Marine Fisheries Institute promotes marine education at earlier educational levels. Outreach ranges from one-day presentations in elementary and middle school classrooms to a semester-long internship program for high school seniors. By giving students the opportunity to explore topics such as scallop growth or marine engineering, an early interest in marine science is fostered. Regional benefits include the fisheries safety courses, recreational fishing tournaments, exhibits at the New Bedford Fishermen’s Heritage Center, public seminars, and engagement with the commercial fishing industry, including meetings with our Scallop Fishing Industry Steering Committee, which includes fishermen, owners, and processors.
Educational outreach to K-12 school groups gives kids hands-on experience and promotes marine science engagement in the community.
Economic Impact Massachusetts fisheries produce more economic yield than any other state. Massachusetts landings are represented by significant quantities of cod, haddock, flounder, lobsters, and scallops. Recreational fisheries in Massachusetts take important quantities of striped bass and cod. The ocean and river environments of fish harvested by Massachusetts fisheries range from the Canadian border to the waters off of Virginia and include the fabled Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine. The economic wealth derived from the fish resources is balanced by the costs of managing the resources and their environment. Management is a monumental task as competition for the fisheries resources increases and as the specter of climate change looms before us. The task of management requires focusing on both the present and the future. Successful management requires managers and scientists to “count the number of fish under the sea”; to transform the counts into population dynamics; and then to develop regulations consonant with the population dynamics. There are many expenses, uncertainties, and pitfalls in the process of managing and sustaining the resources. To efficiently tackle the task both in the present
The Port of New Bedford is America’s preeminent commercial fishing port and has positioned itself to become a major center for the offshore wind industry in the decades ahead. The assets of these industries, combined with the new state-of-the-art SMAST facility in the city’s Clark’s Point neighborhood, will accelerate New Bedford’s emergence as a leader in marine innovation.” Mayor Jon Mitchell, New Bedford, MA
and in the future it is necessary to blend the day-to-day observation of the resources and the environment with advances in sampling techniques, theoretical developments, and statistical estimation procedures. The problem setting requires the consistent interactions of entities such as the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the School for Marine Science & Technology. The Division of Marine Fisheries provides hands-on, routine monitoring of the stocks and the environment and guides management implementation. The School for Marine Science & Technology provides the multidisciplinary research in science and engineering. Working together, these organizations can both identify problems and develop solutions. Paul Diodati, former Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries, and Brian Rothschild, founding Dean of the School for Marine Science & Technology, formalized this targeted partnership as the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, making an efficient foundation to organize the varied resources that are critical to successful and sustainable management of the Commonwealth’s valuable fishery resources. Paul Diodati and Brian Rothschild, Founding Co-Chairs of the Marine Fisheries Institute
Member Directory Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute Executive Committee Steven E. Lohrenz, Ph.D. Co-Chair Dean and Professor School for Marine Science & Technology Tel: 508.910.6550 Fax: 508.999.8197 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org David E. Pierce, Ph.D. Co-Chair Director Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Tel: 617.626.1532 Fax: 617.626.1509 Email: email@example.com Kevin D.E. Stokesbury, Ph.D. Research Director Professor School for Marine Science & Technology Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Steven X. Cadrin, Ph.D. Education Director Professor and Chair of Fisheries Oceanography School for Marine Science & Technology Email: email@example.com Michael P. Sissenwine, Ph.D. Distinguished Senior Scientist Marine Fisheries Consultant Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cate E. O’Keefe, Ph.D. Policy Director Marine Science and Policy Analyst Division of Marine Fisheries Email: catherine.o’email@example.com
Advisory Council Ramprasad Balasubramanian University of Massachusetts Dartmouth College of Engineering John Bullard Regional Administrator NOAA Fisheries Paul Diodati Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (retired) Roy Enoksen Eastern Fisheries Kathryn Ford Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Vito Giacalone Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund Northeast Seafood Coalition Steven Goodwin University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Natural Sciences Robyn Hannigan University of Massachusetts Boston School for the Environment Eric Hansen Hansen Scalloping Inc. F/V Endeavor Jon Hare Director Northeast Fisheries Science Center NOAA Fisheries James Kendall New Bedford Seafood Consulting Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership Jake Kritzer Environmental Defense Fund Chris McGuire The Nature Conservancy Frank Mirarchi Fisherman (ret.) Kenneth Oliveira University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Biology Department Michael Orbach Duke University Emeritus Professor John Quinn University of Massachusetts School of Law New England Fishery Management Council
Landings of scallops from vessels such as the F/V Avenger have helped make New Bedford the top-valued port in the nation for over fifteen years.
Brian Rothschild University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology Emeritus Professor
Thousands of students, industry stakeholders, and all levels of government will undoubtedly benefit from the institutional knowledge and scientific advancements enabled by this expansion.” Congressman Bill Keating, D-Massachusetts, 9th District
For more information, or to collaborate with the Marine Fisheries Institute, contact: Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute 836 South Rodney French Boulevard New Bedford, MA 02744-1221
As the nation’s top fishing port, New Bedford is the right place for the Commonwealth’s marine science campus. This expansion of SMAST and the University’s partnership with the Division of Marine Fisheries will add up to high-quality research, education, and policy that will help sustain our coastal economy, from commercial fishing to tourism.” Mark Montigny, MA State Senator
The steel pyramid used in the cooperative sea scallop survey is fitted with video cameras, lights, and a high-resolution digital still camera. It can be deployed from any commercial fishing vessel.
MFI Annual Report 2017