Recent awards totaling nearly $5 million from NOAA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will fund SMAST scallop and groundfish research over the next two years.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced cooperative fisheries research projects, including four led by SMAST scientists, to be funded under the 2014-2015 Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program. The RSA Program reserves a portion of the scallop harvest to fund cooperative research of benefit to the fishery.
Department of Fisheries Oceanography Chair Kevin Stokesbury is principal investigator on two funded video surveys and a project to track so-called "gray meat" in sea scallops, while Professor Steven Cadrin will continue as PI of the highly successful SMAST Yellowtail Bycatch Avoidance Program. The four projects total $4.4M. In addition, SMAST researchers are co-investigators on two RSA projects led by collaborating institutions.
A separate award of $450K from the state was announced at a press conference at SMAST on 21 July attended by (from left in photo) state Rep. Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth), Professor Kevin Stokesbury, state Rep. Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford), UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman, state Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), and SMAST Dean Steven Lohrenz. The funding will support the continued development of new "no-capture" technology for fishery population surveys. The elected officials in attendance were instrumental in securing the state funding.
The SMAST scallop video survey team reported its 2014 findings to the Fishermen’s Steering Committee last week: populations are up, particularly the numbers of small scallops and particularly on Georges Bank.
“The overall stock biomass measured in scallop meat weight is estimated to be 320 million lbs, a substantial increase from the 243 million lbs observed in 2012,” said SMAST Prof. Kevin Stokesbury, lead scientist of the annual video survey. “However, the extraordinary news is the huge number of new recruits, small scallops less than 3 inches that will reach commercial size in the next few years.”
The US sea scallop resource averages 8 billion animals, but large increases in scallop populations seem to occur once every 10 years or so. A population spike from 2003 has supported a large part of the fishery for the past 10 years. The increase seen this year on Georges Bank is even larger than that of 2003, increasing the total estimated resource to 26 billion scallops.
“If protected and managed correctly,” said Stokesbury, “these scallops could insure sustainable catches for the next decade similar to those over the past 10 years.”
The video survey was conducted this year from May to July cooperatively with the fishing industry.
July 24, 2014
Profs. Miles Sundermeyer and Brian Howes of SMAST are among the principals of a new UMass system-wide EXperimental Center for Environmental Lidar (EXCEL), which has been established with a $150K grant from the University's 2014 Science and Technology Initiatives Fund.
Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remarkably precise remote measurement technology that has applications in a wide range of the natural sciences, and is a tool in research initiatives already underway on the Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses.
"By sending extremely short pulses of light (nanoseconds in duration), researchers can image objects and landscapes in three dimensions with meter-to-centimeter resolution," explained Sundermeyer. "Mounted on a tripod, a boat, or even an aircraft, lidar can be deployed rapidly in the field to image forests, coastal land-forms, and even shallow underwater landscapes."
Of particular interest to SMAST researchers are the oceanographic applications of lidar. Coastal erosion, both as a chronic issue associated with sea level rise and as a result of episodic extreme events such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 or the blizzard of 2013, will have increasing impact on the state’s economy.
"Our ability to make rapid and precise measurements of coastal landforms and flora will be a critical tool in the maintenance of our coastal resources, and therefore of ecosystem health and coastal tourism," said Sundermeyer. "EXCEL is expected to accelerate these capabilities, while providing a technical resource and expertise to the Commonwealth, the region, and beyond."
Marine Technology Reporter visited with a number of colleagues at the recent Oceans 2013 MTS/IEEE San Diego conference, including SMAST Dean Steve Lohrenz.
Dean Lohrenz attended the conference to chair the Marine Education and Outreach session and to promote SMAST's new Professional Science Master’s in Coastal and Ocean Administration, Science and Technology.
Lohrenz noted that the new program was created in response "to a growing demand in education to provide mid-career professionals and other students with different education goals with an opportunity to advance their skills."
"This two-year, non-thesis master’s program blends the study of science and engineering with elective courses in management, policy, economics and law," he said, "and it provides a strong emphasis on writing and communication skills. The last semester of the program requires that the student obtain an internship in industry, government, nonprofit or academia."
Reprinted with permission from the October 2013 edition of Marine Technology Reporter: www.seadiscovery.com