HATTIESBURG, MS / ACCESSWIRE / January 23, 2020 / The Science Center for Marine Fisheries (SCeMFiS) has approved over $191,000 in funding for new research projects in 2020. SCeMFiS researchers from across the country will kick off the decade tackling some of the most pressing issues affecting our oceans, including the effects of climate change, marine mammal interactions, and bycatch.
SCeMFiS, part of the National Science Foundation's Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) program, brings together scientific institutions and their partners in the fishing industry to address urgent needs in finfish and shellfish science. All funding and research priorities are determined on a collaborative basis between SCeMFiS scientists and participating industry members.
The following 2020 research projects were approved at the Center's 2019 fall meeting.
- Evaluation of the degree of co-occurrence of surfclams and ocean quahogs at fishable concentrations - Climate change is beginning to affect how fisheries are managed, and regulators will increasingly need to modify existing rules in order to adapt to it. In the case of surfclams, climate change is pushing them out of their traditional habitats, where they are beginning to overlap with ocean quahogs. Since neither species can be harvested together, this overlap has the potential to negatively impact both fisheries. The study, led by Drs. Eric Powell (University of Southern Mississippi) and Roger Mann (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), will examine the extent to which surfclam and quahog habitats currently overlap, and the extent to which this overlap is relevant for management. ($85,899 in funding)
- Evaluation of gray seal-fishery interactions in US waters of the western North Atlantic - Limiting bycatch and interactions with marine mammals is critical to many fisheries in the northeastern U.S. The study, led by Dr. Doug DeMaster (Marine Analytical Consultants), will develop a new, cross-jurisdictional seal population dynamics model to help the National Marine Fisheries Service determine the extent of gray seal fishery interactions, as well as recommending other research priorities for gray seal management. ($57,420 in funding)
- Mid-Atlantic discard analysis - Bycatch remains a persistent issue in several Mid-Atlantic fisheries, and understanding the factors that may contribute to bycatch is a top priority for both fishermen and regulators. The study, from Dr. Robert Leaf (University of Southern Mississippi), will examine four fisheries-scup, Loligo squid, black sea bass, and fluke-and determine which factors may correlate to higher rates. ($43,439 in funding)
- Atlantic Menhaden stock assessment review - By weight, Atlantic menhaden is one of the largest fisheries on the East Coast, supporting both a large bait and marine ingredients industry. The study, from Dr. Steve Cadrin (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) will undertake a review of the menhaden assessment by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, providing a non-technical summary for stakeholders in the menhaden fishery to support science-based management of the fishery. ($4,400 in funding)
SCeMFiS 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 Rhode Island.
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 leads 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.
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SOURCE: Science Center for Marine Fisheries