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NOAA grants to support scallop survey/bycatch avoidancescallops on sea floor

May 14, 2015‌

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded $534,660 to SMAST for research to benefit the sea scallop fishery, $373,922 to support “Broadscale Video Survey of Georges Bank Scallop Open Areas” (Prof. Kevin Stokesbury, PI), and $160,738 to fund “Scallop Fishery Bycatch Avoidance System 2015” (Dr. Catherine O’Keefe, PI).

The awards are granted through NOAA’s Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program, which reserves a portion of the scallop catch to fund research to advance the health and sustainability of the fishery.

In combination with a multi-year RSA grant awarded last year, the funds for Stokesbury’s group underwrite an industry-based video survey of the entire Georges Bank sea scallop resource area. The Bycatch Avoidance Program will use its award to administer a fleet communication network that alerts vessels to “hotspots,” where high yellowtail bycatch is occurring, thus helping ensure that the fishery does not exceed its yellowtail bycatch limit. SMAST will also conduct a comprehensive review of the bycatch avoidance network to evaluate program performance. 

Students weigh in on international fisheries management‌

June 2, 20152015 ICES student review panel

Since 2009, SMAST students have been participating directly in international fisheries science and management through the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Each year, students from the Department of Fisheries Oceanography, with a faculty co-chair, serve as technical reviewers for stock assessments of a variety of species. This year, the group has reviewed 14 stock assessments from the North Sea. As co-chair, Research Associate Dr. Greg DeCelles is presenting the group’s reviews to ICES this week in Copenhagen. The student reviews are taken into account as ICES advises member countries on fisheries management.

The student reviewers this year are Alexander Hansell, Judith Rosellon-Druker, Liberty Schlipp, Megan Winton, Brook Wright, and Doug Zemeckis, along with DeCelles and fellow Research Associate Dr. Cate O’Keefe. Prof. Steve Cadrin co-chaired the group. In exchange for their efforts, students will receive a travel award from ICES to partially fund their attendance at the ICES Annual Science Conference in Copenhagen.

ICES is an intergovernmental organization of more than 4000 scientists whose main objective is to increase the scientific knowledge of the marine environment and its living resources and to use this knowledge to provide advice to management.

 SMAST to study new toxic invaderJeff Turner at microscope

June 15, 2015‌‌                                                                                                   

WHOI/MIT Sea Grant has awarded Prof. Jefferson Turner $150,000 to study the toxic dinoflagellate Cochlodinium polykrikoides, which has been increasing in frequency of blooms in Buzzards Bay over the last decade. Although unrecorded in previous published Buzzards Bay plankton studies, this fish-killing species has been forming massive blooms with “rust-colored” water discoloration in the northern Bay in August and September in the last few years. 

Prof. Turner’s Biological Oceanography/Plankton Ecology Laboratory at UMass Dartmouth (Biology Department and SMAST) has been monitoring Buzzards Bay monthly since 1987. Their study has produced almost 27 years of archived samples for plankton community composition and abundance and water quality parameters. Analysis of these samples can address the question of what causes the observed Cochlodinium blooms.

By working backward from the present, and focusing on samples from late summer-early fall in the northern portions of Buzzards Bay, the investigators hope to determine when Cochlodinium first appeared in the  Bay. They will also continue monitoring the Bay to illuminate the winter, spring and early summer nutrient and hydrographic conditions that set the stage for what now appear to be annual late-summer/early-fall blooms.