SMAST News & Events

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  New instrument unveiled at AGU Mark Altabet's gas tension device

December 31, 2014‌ ‌

SMAST Professor Mark Altabet is part of a multi-institutional team that introduced a novel oceanographic ‌instrument to the scientific community at December’s fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Researchers from the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory and SMAST/UMassD developed the instrument to monitor the biogeochemistry of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) in the ocean on time scales impractical for shipboard studies.

The new Teflon-membrane-based “gas tension device” (GTD) measures the excess nitrogen gas microbially generated in OMZs, with a depth range from the surface to 550 meters, a significant advancement over previous GTD models. Two of the new instruments were field tested on floats deployed off Mexico’s Pacific coast for 15 days last summer, and the results were validated against independent measurements.

At the same meeting, SMAST Dean Steve Lohrenz presented an invited talk entitled "Assessing Impacts of Climate and Land Use Change on Terrestrial-Ocean Fluxes of Carbon and Nutrients and their Cycling in Coastal Ecosystems." Overall, seven SMAST personnel authored or co-authored posters or oral presentations at the AGU meeting, the largest earth and space science conference in the world. 

  Rothschild named Hjort Scholar

Brian Rothschild in office

December 31, 2014‌

SMAST Prof. Emeritus Brian Rothschild has been appointed a Hjort Scholar by the Hjort Centre for Marine Ecosystem Dynamics, Bergen, Norway. According to the appointment letter, recipients of Hjort Scholarships are “… scientists whose research is deemed to promote scientific innovation and understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics.” The award includes a grant in the amount of 50.000 krone (~US$7000), which will be directed to research collaboration and proposal development with Centre scientists.

The center is named for Johan Hjort, widely considered to be the father of fisheries science.

In October, Dr. Rothschild delivered an invited address at the Johan Hjort Symposium on Recruitment Dynamics and Stock Variability in Bergen. The occasion for the symposium was the 100th anniversary of the publication of Hjort’s seminal book, Fluctuations in the Great Fisheries of Northern Europe. According to the symposium organizers, “The importance of [Hjort’s] volume cannot be overstated, particularly Hjort’s new conceptual ideas about the formation of strong year classes based on age determination from fish scales.”

Dr. Rothschild is Professor Emeritus and founding Dean of the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology. He is currently President and CEO of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries (CSF), a science-based, non-profit organization “devoted to the onservation of our fisheries resources and the economic development of our fishing communities.”

  O'Keefe to address AAAS

December 31, 2014                                                                                                        

SMAST Research Associate Dr. Catherine O’Keefe has been invited to address the annual Cate OKeefe at Alumni Awards podiummeeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, California, next month. Cate’s presentation is entitled “An Incentive-Led, Dynamic Communication Program in the U.S. Atlantic Scallop Fishery.”

Cate is the principal architect of the SMAST Bycatch Avoidance Program, which since 2010 has helped prevent bycatch-related closures of New Bedford’s $600 million scallop fishery.

When the scallop fleet reaches their limit of flounder bycatch, areas are closed to the fleet, preventing full harvest of scallops. In fact, from 2006 to 2009, the scallop fishery was closed early because it approached the flounder bycatch limit, costing the industry approximately $60 million.

Cate and other SMAST researchers worked with scallop fishermen to develop an information sharing system that enables fishermen to avoid bycatch hotspots. The program was implemented in 2010, and the fleet was able to catch their entire scallop allocation, while only catching one third of their bycatch limit, thus making the program a conservation success as well as an economic success. The program has grown over the last five years to include over 70% of the scallop fleet, and the fishery has not exceeded their bycatch limits since the program was introduced.

During the past year, she has been working with a group of researchers from both the east and west coasts of the U.S. to advance real-time ocean management. Along with colleagues from the group, she’ll be presenting results from that work at the conference.