Project Title: Optimizing the Georges Bank Scallop Fishery by Maximizing Meat Yield and Minimizing Bycatch
Principle Investigators: Luisa Garcia, Carl Huntsberger, Liese Siemann, Rachel Simpson
Client: NOAA/NMFS Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program
This project is a continuation of the current seasonal bycatch survey being conducted by CFF. The project will consist of eight 7-day survey trips aboard commercial scallop vessels occurring every odd month from July 2016 through June 2017, as well as a trip in October and June to collect spawning information. Vessels will be equipped with two Coonamessett Farm Turtle Deflector Dredges (CFTDD), one with an experimental 5-row apron and one with a standardized 7-row apron. Fixed stations established during the 2015 survey on the northern section of George’s bank will be sampled consistently. Data collected will be used to quantify bycatch rates and scallop shell height-meat weight relationships. Flatfish sampling will involve collecting fish maturity data for windowpane, winter and yellowtail flounders. This data will provide valuable information on seasonal changes in the utilization of habitat areas by commercially important species. Sampling will focus on yellowtail flounder to estimate the prevalence of a potentially significant parasitic protozoan (Ichthyophonus sp.). Scallop sampling will entail reproductive staging as well as characterizing meat quality and scallop health. Lobster sampling will include biological measurements, examination for shell disease and assessment of dredge induced damage. A tagging component in collaboration with the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association (AOLA) and NH Fish and Game will be incorporated into the project to examine distribution, migration and incidental mortality of lobsters in the scallop industry.