NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Progress Report

Award No.: ACOM / URM / SGD2

Awarding agency: NOAA Coastal Ocean Program

Funded via:
The UNH Sea Grant College Program
Dr. Ann Bucklin, Director
142 Morse Hall
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824
Tel. 603-862-0122; FAX 603-862-0243

Date submitted: March 23, 1998

Project Title: Biological and physical data collection by commercial fishermen from fishing vessels in the Gulf of Maine as part of the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study

Award dates: May 1, 1996 - June 30, 1998

P.I.s Brian Doyle, Marine Advisory Program Leader
UNH/UM Sea Grant College Program
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824
Tel. 603-749-1565; FAX 603-743-3997


Peter H. Wiebe, Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Tel. 508-289-2313; FAX 508-457-2169

Submitted to: Dr. Elizabeth Turner, Program Manager
NOAA Coastal Ocean Program
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Tel. 301-713-3338

Project Summary

Commercial fishermen and their vessels are participating in a pilot effort to fully involve commercial vessels in an oceanographic research program, the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study. This participation involves collection of far-field biological and physical measurements, in support of the planned process studies of source, retention, and loss of water and organisms over the Bank. In addition to field measurements, commercial fishermen are involved in subsequent post-cruise processing, data analysis, and presentation of results to other program participants. The long-term goal of this project is to enhance communication and understanding between the academic research oceanographic community and the commercial fish harvesting community, through collaboration and full partnership in a field program of common interest. The products from the proposed work will include scientific data of use to research oceanographers, fisheries biologists, and the commercial fishing industry. The partnership will create new mechanisms for monitoring coastal ocean ecosystems that may allow continuation of the Georges Bank Study beyond the five-year program planned as part of the U.S. GLOBEC program.

Project Approach:

This project includes commercial fishermen and their fishing vessels as full partners in the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study. The approach of the project is to: collect biological and physical oceanographic data, analyze these data, integrate the results into the scientific progress of the program, and present the results at scientific investigators' meetings. These tasks are being performed by selected commercial fishermen, U.S. GLOBEC program staff, and students and technicians associated with U.S. GLOBEC. This project is envisioned as a small, pilot effort involving only a few fishermen and their vessels. Eventually, as many as a dozen vessels may be involved. The goals of the proposed project are:

1) To make far-field measurements in a pilot project that will demonstrate feasibility of this approach for more extensive measurements in support of U.S.GLOBEC Georges Bank Study Phase II;

2) To involve commercial harvesters in an oceanographic research program, and to improve their understanding of the ecosystem dynamics of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, especially as they determine fisheries yields of cod and haddock;

3) To provide a forum for the commercial harvesters to impart their knowledge and understanding of the ecosystem they fish to research oceanographers who study the same system.

4) To begin the development of a monitoring system for coastal ocean ecosystems that involves commercial fishermen and fishing vessels, which will continue the assessment of the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine ecosystems beyond the duration of the U.S. GLOBEC study.

Progress on award to date:

Identification of fishing vessels

Discussions were held with a number of commercial fishermen regarding the project during 1996 and 1997, at the Maine Fisherman's forum and at a variety of workshops, meetings, and informal discussions. The project was described to commercial fishermen by Rollie Barnaby (UNH Sea Grant Extension), Ann Bucklin (UNH Sea Grant), and Peter Wiebe (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). A result of these discussions was the decision to work with one New Bedford, MA vessel, with the assistance of John Ryther (CR Environmental, Inc., E. Falmouth, MA) and one Portland, ME vessel, with coordination by Rollie Barnaby. Eventually, it was clear that it would be prohibitively expensive to outfit two vessels with all collection gear. The decision was then made to use the Portland vessel, the R/V Susan and Caitlyn, owned by Capt. Craig Pendleton for the initial cruises of this pilot study, and to evaluate opportunities for additional vessels after the first cruises.

Peter Wiebe and Ann Bucklin traveled to Portland, ME in December, 1996, to view the selected vessel, the R/V Susan and Caitlin. In discussion with the vessel owner, Capt. Craig Pendleton, and his first mate, likely deployment strategies were decided upon, as well as additional gear needs and cruise plans. We agreed that we would provide all additional needed gear and equipment (beyond what the vessel already had) from project funds, and that the sea-going research technician would transport the gear to the vessel at the time of the cruises.

Data collection on commercial fishing vessels

The implementation phase of the program was long-delayed due to necessary planning and preparation, including: education of the vessel owners and captains; construction and purchase of the bongo net; determination of insurance and permitting needs for the commercial vessels; and assembly of all equipment and preparation of the identified vessels. Although this phase delayed any field sampling, it was a critical learning experience for everyone involved in the project. Our hard-earned experience in this arena will expedite any future efforts using commercial fishing vessels in research and development projects using federal funding. In addition, we quickly discovered that active commercial vessels are highly opportunistic, and long-term planning is not feasible. We therefore modified our preparations to allow research cruise scheduling on a highly opportunistic basis with almost advance warning. We arranged to have a CTD system standing by at UNH, with all collection gear (nets, preservatives, and jars) ready for a cruise at any time. We also selected alternate technical assistants, in case James Pierson was unable to participate in a cruise at short notice.

The various factors - weather, vessel operability, fishing seasons and catch, and technical assistance - finally coincided in February, 1998. We completed sampling at two stations in Wilkinson Basin. At each station, a CTD cast and two bongo tows were taken. The bongo net rigging and deployment were comparable to that of the U.S. GLOBEC Broadscale Surveys (with one 150 µm and one 333 µm mesh net) and the sample preservation and curation were done identically. The COP-funded technician, James Pierson, is a UNH graduate and currently works as a U.S. GLOBEC oceanographic technician in the zooplankton sorting group at the University of Rhode Island. The CTD data have been analyzed and the samples will be analyzed with other U.S. GLOBEC samples. Please see the attached cruise report.

Plans for future work

Monthly cruises will continue during spring 1998 to coincide with the U.S. GLOBEC Broadscale Surveys over Georges Bank. We plan to sample primarily from Wilkinson Basin on the R/V Susan and Caitlin, but will also sample from Jordan Basin as opportunities arise. These far-field measurements will be incorporated into the U.S. GLOBEC data base. Capt. Craig Pendleton and associates will attend U.S. GLOBEC meetings in the near future, as schedules allow.

Significance of this project

This program of data collection by members of the fishing industry and their integration into the process of data analysis and interpretation will suggest new and innovative ways to monitor the marine environment.

Appendix: Cruise Report SC-9801 on the F/V Susan & Caitlyn to Wilkinson Basin

Prepared by James J. Pierson
Research Technician
University of New Hampshire, Durham
U.S.GLOBEC Oceanographic Technician
University of Rhode Island, Narragansett

We departed on the F/V Susan & Caitlyn from Portland Harbor at 0920 hr on February 21, 1998 under clear skies and calm sea conditions. The seas remained calm with swells no larger than 2-3 ft. until the completion of the first station, when seas rose to 6-8 ft. The F/V Susan & Caitlyn is rigged for both groundfishing and shrimping. The steam out to the first station took approximately 7 hours, with the boat making a maximum speed of 8 knots. There were two hydraulic winches on board that were fed through separate blocks. At the first station we used the starboard block and winch, but at the second station we used the port block and winch because the variable speed was more easily controlled on that winch. We used latitude and longitude numbers I had already plotted for the first station in Wilkinson Basin. I had another station plotted, but Craig and Mike knew of an area of deeper water (160 fathoms ~ 290 meters) in Wilkinson Basin that we used for the second station. On the Gulf of Maine chart I used to plot station positions, there is no mention of water as deep as 160 fathoms, but Mike had fished the area often and had the coordinates saved on the plotter so that we found the spot easily. At the second station, the second bongo came up and one of the ties on the cod ends had come undone so we did a retow, but the sample that did come back on the first tow was preserved. Following the CTD on the second station, we headed in, steaming for approximately 9 hours and arriving at the dock in Portland Harbor at 0930 hr on February 22.

At each station, two bongo net tows were made: one deep tow to at least 200 m (or deeper, depending on the depth of the water column) and a shallower tow to approximately 50 m. Without real-time depth information, I was conservative with the deep tow so that we didn't hit bottom. Tows were made with the vessel steaming forward at ~2 knots. The bongo was raised up to the block by hauling in on the winch, the 40 kg weight which was attached by a chain to the frame was then hoisted over the rail and the winch was payed out at ~25 fathoms per minute. The vessel had no meter wheel, but the cable was marked in 25 fathom increments which I used to determine the amount of wire payed out and rate of payout. The rate was determined by timing the markings on the wire as they passed through the block. After the cruise, I back-calculated to determine the equivalent wire length in meters. There was also no inclinometer, but I fashioned one out of a weighted piece of line and the back of a clipboard. Since I had no protractor, markings were made for each tow. Once on shore, I measured the angles and calculated the actual depth of the tow, multiplying the cosine of the angle by the length of wire out.

One side of the bongo frame was fitted with a 0.150 mm mesh net and the other side with a 0.335 mm mesh net. General Oceanics flowmeters were suspended from the center of each frame opening. A 40 kg weight, borrowed from the NMFS laboratory in Narragansett, was attached to the net frame with a chain and shackle. The samples from the 0.150 mm mesh were preserved in 10% formalin, and the samples from the 0.335 mm mesh were preserved in 95% ethyl alcohol. In addition, a subsample from the 0.150 mm mesh net was preserved in 95% ethyl alcohol. I determined the amount of subsample taken based on the amount of biomass in the net. Although the total biomass was only estimated by eye, the proportion of the sample removed in the subsample was measured by rinsing the entire sample into a large beaker, diluting it to a pre-determined volume, and pouring a measured volume into a small beaker.

Following the bongo tows, a CTD cast was done at each station with an Seabird CTD in archive mode. The CTD, borrowed from the Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, was fitted with a transmissometer, fluorometer, dissolved oxygen sensor, and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) sensor. The data from each cast was downloaded on deck immediately following each haul. The CTD data were to be analyzed at the University of New Hampshire.

Suggestions for future cruises:

1. Purchase a spray nozzle for the seawater hose to make washing the nets easier. This will require a reducer fitting for the hose since the ship uses 1.5" hose, and we will want to use regular garden hose.

2. Obtain or fabricate an inclinometer for measuring wire angle.

3. Construct a tabletop in a sheltered spot on deck, to hold boxes of jars, seives, and items used during sample splitting and preservation.

4. Obtain a meter wheel, or make additional markings on the wire (i.e., in 5 meter increments) in order to more accurately measure the length of wire out.


Haul Stn. Date Location Net(µm) Split Preservation

1 W1 21 II 98 42o48'N; 69o43'W A (150) 200/700 EtOH

1 W1 21 II 98 42o48'N; 69o43'W A (150) -200/700 Formalin

1 W1 21 II 98 42o48'N; 69o43'W B (333) All EtOH

2 W1 21 II 98 42o48'N; 69o43'W A (150) 180/600 EtOH

2 W1 21 II 98 42o48'N; 69o43'W A (150) -180/600 Formalin

2 W1 21 II 98 42o48'N; 69o43'W B (333) All EtOH

3 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W A (150) 200/600 EtOH

3 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W A (150) -200/600 Formalin

3 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W B (333) All EtOH

4 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W A (150) 200/700 EtOH

4 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W A (150) -200/700 Formalin

4 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W B (333) LOST -----

5 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W A (150) 150/500 EtOH

5 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W A (150) -150/500 Formalin

5 W2 21 II 98 42o37'N; 69o35'W B (333) All EtOH