Below you can read the prospectus CSF has developed and is putting forth as a good-faith attempt to solve some of the persistent challenges constraining the New England groundfishery. This paper will be widely circulated and it is our hope that the meeting with all fishery stakeholders that we are currently proposing will open a dialogue among the parties and produce better outcomes for all with an interest in preserving our fish and our fishermen.
NORTHEAST COOPERATIVE TRAWL SURVEY PROGRAM (NECTP)
Improving Stock Assessment Data
In response to the ongoing New England fishery crisis, the Center for Sustainable Fisheries (CSF) is calling on all fishery stakeholders to initiate a cooperative trawl survey program.
CSF considers the development of a Northeast Cooperative Trawl Program (NECTP) to be an integral part of our mission to help improve fisheries-management outcomes and develop long-term strategies to sustain our living marine resources.
We believe participants should include representatives from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), the New England fishery management councils, members of the fishing industry, the New England states and distinguished academics.
A NECTP is needed to improve confidence in both survey data and stock assessments, and to address some current management practices that have involuntarily resulted in ‘underfishing.’
It is an undisputed fact that commercial fishermen in the Northeast groundfishery are landing only 20-30 percent of their TAC (total allowable catch), leaving between 70 to 80 percent of the catch underharvested. This amounts to a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Even abundant stocks, such as haddock, are severely underharvested, with only a small fraction of the allowable catch taken over the last several years.
A clear explanation for these remarkable shortfalls is not readily apparent. They could result from 1) diminished stock abundance 2) regulations, such as those that relate to choke species, or 3) economic factors, such as the lease prices for fish. The relative weight of each of these factors remains uncertain; nor is it known whether fluctuations in stock abundance are influenced to a greater degree by fishing intensity or by other factors, such as predation or rapid changes in the ocean environment.
CSF believes that expanded survey sampling of groundfish is vital to obtain better data. A trawl survey, such as we are proposing, would enhance the existing stock assessment process and help to correct the perception that fishery science is flawed, resulting in low industry confidence in the fishery data. We believe that a cohesive program, such as the proposed NECPT, could help resolve these issues in a cost-effective and timely way.
The concept for the NECTP was developed by the CSF Science and Fishing Committee (SCICOM) whose members draw upon decades of hands-on experience in commercial fishing, scientific research, gear design and engineering. Based on their recommendations, CSF intends to schedule a planning meeting, in the near future, to discuss a NECPT and gather input from those interested in taking part. .
This prospectus is in response to the ongoing New England fishery crisis and calls on all fishery stakeholders to initiate a Northeast Cooperative Trawl Survey Program (NECTP).
CSF envisions that the development of a NECTP is best planned through a meeting of those most involved. This includes members of the fishing industry, representatives from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), the New England fishery management councils, the Division of Marine Fisheries and academics working in the field of marine science.
Our aim is for the NECTP to evolve into a cohesive program for estimating fish abundance and the effects of the environment on fish stocks. CSF will work with stakeholders to ensure adequate funding for high priority components of the program. A date and location for the meeting will be announced in the near future.
SAMPLE AGENDA FOR INITIAL NECTP MEETING
1. Survey objectives
a. Collaborative Flatfish Survey (this would be a collaborative and cooperative survey with gear especially designed for flatfish)
b. Open Cod end technology (The idea here is to sample fish abundance without using ACE)
c. Bigelow Survey (here we want to put into perspective special issues such as the effect of tow length and bottom time)
d. Port sampling discussion (we need to consider the tradeoff between field sampling and port sampling)
e. Discussion identifying long and short range components (need to emphasize that we want to start our new approach now even though we need to conduct investigations focused on improving ongoing operations)
2. Ongoing operations
a. Number and type of vessels
b. optimal sampling times(e.g. month(s))
c. sampling frequency(e.g. how often)
d. data availability(data should be available in close to real time)
e. operational protocols(development of cruise plans, flexibility, etc.)
f. integration of different approaches(discuss integrating different sampling approach and coordination with short term studies)
g. coordinating council(meetings of participants to ensure coordination, communication, and trouble shoot)
3. Research required for improvement of on-going operations
a. Field trials of open ended technology (new technology so need to work out bugs)
b. Sampling issues (sample size, stratification, cost-effectiveness etc.)
c. Bigelow shadowing and other calibration issues( calibration is critical part of all inter-gear comparisons and is probably more complex than presently considered)
4. Implementation Issues – funding
CSF SCIENCE COMMITTEE
TOR BENDIKSEN STEVE CADRIN RICHIE CANASTRA
DAN GEORGIANA DAVE GOETHEL DICK GRACHEK
JIM LOVGREN MARK PHILLIPS BRIAN ROTHSCHILD
JIMMY RUHLE KEVIN STOKESBURY TOM WILLIAMS
CSF Board of Directors
Brian J. Rothschild President and CEO
Barney Frank Chairman of the Board
Richard Stavis Treasurer
Meghan Lapp Secretary
Marc Agger Peter Barney Tor Bendiksen Bonnie Brady Steve Cadrin Richie Canastra
Harriet Didriksen Jim Fox Dan Georgianna David Goethel Dick Grachek Gail Isaksen
Jim Kendall Verna Kendall Kate Kramer Malvin Kvilhaug Pamela Lafreniere
Scott Lang Jim Lovgren Drew Minkiewicz Mark Phillips Jimmy Ruhle
Angela Sanfilippo Jeff Steib Nils Stolpe Bob Vanasse Tom Williams
Steve Cadrin Jim DeArruda Licy DoCanto Dan Georgianna Julie Petersen Kevin Stokesbury