HATTIESBURG, MS / ACCESSWIRE / January 23, 2019 / Following the completion of its initial 5-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, the Science Center for Marine Fisheries (SCeMFiS) has been awarded a new Phase 2 grant by the NSF to continue its work. SCeMFiS will use the new grant to further its track record of quality, collaborative research with its fishing industry and academic partners.
The grant is part of NSF's Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) program, which was developed to initiate long-term partnerships among industry, academia, and government. SCeMFiS is the only Phase 2 IUCRC program dedicated exclusively to fisheries and marine science research.
"Our new Phase 2 grant will allow SCeMFiS researchers to continue our collaborative work with the fishing industry," said Center Director Dr. Eric Powell, of the University of Southern Mississippi, one of the academic members of SCeMFiS. "The Phase 2 grant will enable SCeMFiS to continue to fund the groundbreaking research necessary to maintain healthy fish stocks and healthy fisheries at a time when reliance on the best available science is increasingly critical."
As it moves into Phase 2, SCeMFiS will focus on reducing scientific uncertainty; the effects of climate change on fish stocks and fishing communities; resolving issues between fishing and offshore energy interests; and developing sound ecosystem-based fisheries management.
"Our priorities for Phase 2 reflect the biggest challenges in the future of the fishing industry," said Center Site Director Dr. Roger Mann, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, another SCeMFiS academic institution. "To meet these challenges, the industry and fisheries managers will need the kind of innovative research that SCeMFiS has regularly produced over the last 5 years."
In its first 5 years, SCeMFiS has done groundbreaking research on finfish and shellfish. Among other projects, the Center produced the first age-frequency distributions for ocean quahog, one of the longest-lived species in the ocean. SCeMFiS scientists conducted the first benthic survey on important ocean habitat east of Nantucket, and mapped the shifting range of surfclams, documenting how climate change is beginning to affect the species.
SCeMFiS has also designed a pelagic survey for Atlantic menhaden and provided recommendations to improve port sampling for the species, carried out the only scientific work to date on Atlantic chub mackerel, and carried out an economic analysis for longfin squid.
All of these projects were reviewed, approved, and funded by the industry members on our Industry Advisory Board, who rely on sound science for the health of their fisheries and businesses.
"Fisheries management is only as good as the science it's based on," said Greg DiDomenico, Executive Director of the Garden State Seafood Association and a member of SCeMFiS' Industry Advisory Board. "That's why it's so important for the fishing industry to maintain its partnership with SCeMFiS. We need to promote the best available science."
The SCeMFiS mission utilizes academic and fisheries resources to address urgent scientific problems limiting sustainable fisheries. SCeMFiS develops methods, analytical and survey tools, datasets, and analytical approaches to improve sustainability of fisheries and reduce uncertainty in biomass estimates. SCeMFiS university partners, University of Southern Mississippi (lead institution), and Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, are the academic sites. Collaborating scientists who provide specific expertise in finfish, shellfish, and marine mammal research, come from a wide range of academic institutions including Old Dominion University, Rutgers University, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, University of Maryland, and University of Washington.
The need for the diverse services that SCeMFiS can provide to industry continues to grow, which has prompted a steady increase in the number of fishing industry partners. These services include immediate access to science expertise for stock assessment issues, rapid response to research priorities, and representation on stock assessment working groups. Targeted research leading to improvements in data collection, survey design, analytical tools, assessment models, and other needs to reduce uncertainty in stock status and improve reference point goals.
Dr. Eric Powell
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
University of Southern Mississippi
SOURCE: Science Center for Marine Fisheries