Project Title: Optimizing the Georges Bank Scallop Fishery by Maximizing Meat Yield and Minimizing Bycatch
Principle Investigators: Luisa Garcia, Liese Siemann
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 even month from July 2017 through June 2018, as well as trips in September and January. Vessels will be equipped with two Coonamessett Farm Turtle Deflector Dredges (CFTDD), one with an experimental 5-row apron and a 1.5:1 twine top hanging ratio, and one with a standardized 7-row apron and a 2:1 twine top hanging ratio, identical to the dredges used throughout the previous CFF bycatch seasonal surveys. Fixed stations, selected based on previous survey results, 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 (i.e., gray meat) 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.