Massachusetts Industry-Based Gulf of Maine Cod Survey

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Given the poor stock of Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod, low catch limits, and many fishermen’s claims that the cod status is better than currently assessed; the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game Division of Marine Fisheries is implementing a new GOM Cod Industry-Based Survey (cod IBS).

Relying on fishermen’s guidance with additional input from the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC),

Marine Fisheries has begun to administer a three-year study in the southwestern portion of the GOM where remnants of the GOM cod stock currently reside.

According to Marine Fisheries, The cod IBS will:

•  Provide another science source (resource data and information) for use in assessments
•  Test fishermen’s hypothesis about GOM cod redistributing offshore in response to warming water
•  Demonstrate relevance and importance of a GOM cod IBS for improving our understanding of the distribution of cod at times and in areas when the NEFSC surveys are not performed
•  Acquire additional scientific data on other groundfish stocks in the survey area
•  Enable minimum estimates of swept-area biomass
•  Determine the cod IBS’s potential for providing indices of abundance

The survey follows a stratified-random design with stations occurring from 10 fathoms to 160 fathoms, including waters west of 69° 30’ within the GOM cod stock boundary.

A total of eight survey cruises will be conducted between April 1, 2016, through July 31, 2016; and October 1, 2016, through January 31, 2017. Ten days of sampling will occur in each of the eight cruises, making 30-minute tows and, depending on weather and sea conditions, averaging five tows per day.

The entire area will be surveyed monthly during the months of October, November, December, January, April, May, June, and July. The first survey cruise is scheduled to start in April 2016.

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source: Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game Division of Marine Fisheries