Eight researchers and students from the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth set sail on September 5, 2002 on their second scientific cruise of the season with the F/V Liberty.
The purpose of this research cruise is to tag 12,000 sea scallops in the Great South Channel to estimate their growth rates and movement. Brian Rothschild, Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences and Technology said, “These cruises substantially increase our knowledge of sea scallop biology and their sustainable management.”
In May 2001 SMAST and fishermen from four vessels tagged 11,700 sea scallops and released them in the open area just north of the Nantucket Lightship closed area. The scallop fleet strongly supported the research conducted by Dr. Kevin Stokesbury and his graduate students. As a result of this support, fishermen returned 790 tagged scallops to SMAST.
From these tagged scallops,researchers have updated estimates of growth, which will have implications for managing the fishery. Further, they also discovered that the tagged scallops moved an average of four nautical miles.
The project will identify where the sea scallop recruits for the Nantucket Lightship Area come from.
Since 1999 SMAST and the scallop fishing fleet of New Bedford have completed 25 research cruises to Georges Bank. The first SMAST research cruise of 2002 was conducted in June with the F/V Huntress, and another cruise will take place later this month with the F/V Friendship. These two cruises will use video techniques that were developed at SMAST to produce a series of maps of the sea floor in open and closed areas of Georges Banks, detailing the abundance and distribution of bottom type substrate, scallops, sponges, starfish, and other invertebrate.
During the F/V Huntress cruise, 28.3 million pounds of harvestable sea scallops were observed in the northeast corner of the Nantucket Lightship closed area, almost double the 14.8 million pounds observed at the same location in 1999.