Scallop Survey to aid conservation and protect scallop harvest from Georges Bank to Virginia

The School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in cooperation with the commercial fishing industry will embark on the largest sea scallop field survey ever undertaken in the north and mid-Atlantic. The first vessel leaves New Bedford Harbor on May 24.

May 13, 2003 

Scallop Survey to aid conservation and protect scallop harvest from Georges Bank to Virginia is announced by UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology 

The School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in cooperation with the commercial fishing industry will embark on the largest sea scallop field survey ever undertaken in the north and mid-Atlantic. The first vessel leaves New Bedford Harbor on May 24. 

The survey, announced Tuesday (May 13) at a press conference on the New Bedford waterfront against a backdrop of scallop vessels, will significantly influence regulatory decisions that impact the present and future of the scallop industry. 

Professor Brian Rothschild, SMAST director, said, "The scallop resources on the bottom of the sea are worth three quarters of a billion dollars. The industry and the university are working together to manage and conserve this resource. We are confident that this research will make a key contribution to the scallop fisheries' conservation." 

State Representative John Quinn said, "This project is another example of the critical role that UMass plays in the economic development projects in southeastern Massachusetts. This partnership is a testament to the importance of the scallop industry in the region and the role that SMAST plays in assisting it." 

Paul Diodati, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries, said,"Members of New Bedford's scallop industry continue to be leaders in the area of industry based research. This cooperative relationship will result in important benefits for both the fishing community and our science institutions." 

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said," The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is dedicated to providing exactly this type of intellectual resource to support the community that we serve. This research and the process of doing it in partnership with fishermen and with our students is a great model for building great science, with great learning and economic impacts." 

Since 1999, SMAST scientists and students in collaboration with members of the commercial fishing industry have completed 22 video surveys examining the abundance and distribution of sea scallops, and the scallop habitat on Georges Bank. 

This research has already aided in developing limited fisheries in the closed areas of Georges Bank, and eased the damaging effects of fishing on the sea floor by greatly reducing dredging time. 

The sea scallop industry generates as much as $300 million annually for the New Bedford economy. 
In addition to providing managers with precise stock assessment information, the video survey constitutes the largest examination of the environmental impacts of bottom-tending mobile fishing gear ever conducted. 

Martin Manley, boat owner and member of the project's steering committee said," The commercial fishing industry understands how critical this research is to the future. Rotational fishing will preserve scallops and our livelihoods. SMAST and this research project have our full support and gratitude." 

Dr. Kevin Stokesbury of SMAST is the principal researcher on this project. He said, "We cannot manage the scallop fishery if we don't know how many scallops are on the sea floor, where they are, and what size they are. We cannot determine what is essential fish habitat if we don't know what is on the sea floor, or measure the effect of the fishery on habitat if we don't know what is on the sea floor." 

To obtain that hard data, he and a crew of SMAST students and fishermen, will make at least 8 trips from the Hague Line to Virginia, videotaping the scallops on the sea floor. 

They will also: 

  • Examine the abundance, spatial distribution and size structure of sea scallops inside and outside closed areas of Georges Bank in 2003 and extend the survey to the mid-Atlantic
  • Continue to examine site-specific growth, mortality and movement by conducting andlor analyzing tagging experiments
  • Map the benthic habitat
  • Continue using the above information to develop a temporal-spatially specific fisheries management system for the Georges Bank scallop resource


Over 97 boat owners, captains and other industry members have donated their vessels, crews, food and fuel, as well as over $50,000 to support the scallop research project. Among those who have contributed are:New Bedford Ship Supply (food for all trips); Warrior Fuel Corp and Dockside (fuel for two trips each); supporters and donors Roy Enoksen, Marty Manley and Harriott Dedricksen. 

Survey vessels have been donated by: Eastern Fisheries, Future Fisheries Inc., Flamingo Fishing Corp., Guidance Fishing Corp.,Isaksen Fishing Co., E&S Fisheries Inc., Boat Mary Anne Inc. 

Some of the captains who will join the researchers are: Chris Wright, Gabriel Miranda, Timmy Manley, Tom Nicholas, Manuel Vieira, Hans Davidsen, Charlie Quinn and Danny Eilertsen. 


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