The School for Marine Science & Technology's (SMAST) Department of Fisheries Oceanography (DFO) delivers quality education and conducts cutting-edge research in the interdisciplinary sciences related to the interactions between marine organisms and the marine environment.
The DFO's primary purpose is to train scientists in the techniques and theory of fisheries oceanography, with emphasis on stock assessment, population dynamics, physical and biological interaction and ecosystem modeling. Both MS and PhD programs address the growing need for marine scientists in federal and state agencies, academic institutions, and industry.
Research approaches employed include field exploration, laboratory experiments, theoretical research and modeling. DFO students are fully involved in all these aspects. Research areas include:
- Quantitative Fisheries Science
- Fish Behavior and Conservation Engineering
- Fisheries Biology and Assessment Laboratory
- Marine Ecosystem Dynamics Modeling Laboratory
- Marine Finfish Dynamics Research
- Marine Fisheries Field Group Research
- Marine Policy
- Marine Resource Economics
- Biological Oceanography – Plankton Ecology
As of 2015, New Bedford has remained the No. 1 fishing port in the country in terms of value of andings, and cooperative research with the fishing industry is an important aspect of the work of DFO at SMAST.
Cooperative research occurs throughout the DFO in the industry-based annual sea scallop video survey, fishing gear research and design, socio-economic investigations, and research on species such as cod, herring, yellowtail flounder, winter flounder, and monkfish. Cooperative research is important for the following:
- Enriching our work with the knowledge and perspective of the fishermen
- Alerting us to issues important to the health of the industry and the stocks
- Enhancing our ability to collect high quality data
For example, the scallop industry has worked extensively with the DFO to develop the world's largest video survey data-base of the sea scallop resource, and this research has been used in in management plans since 1999.