Offshore Winter Flounder Spawning Research

An underwater image of a winter flounder swimming along sandy bottom 

Project Title: Investigating Offshore Essential Fish Habitat of Southern New England Winter Flounder

Year: 2015

Principle Investigators: Carl Huntsberger, Liese Siemann, Samir Patel, & Jasper Leavitt

Client: Saltonstall – Kennedy Fund

The primary purpose of this project is to identify coastal spawning locations of winter flounder in the over fished Southern New England (SNE) stock, with the goal of expanding the essential fish habitat (EFH) to encompass all regions critical to winter flounder spawning.  This new knowledge can help rebuild the stock.

It has long been recognized that there is an offshore spawning contingent of winter flounder in SNE, yet this has not been incorporated into the management for this region since there is still limited data.  This project will consist of a scallop dredge survey using commercial vessels to target adult winter flounder; before, during, and after the spawning season in SNE. This will provide data on how the adult fish are utilizing various habitat areas around the spawning season.  A video and egg collection survey will also be conducted using our epibenthic sled to evaluate habitat and confirm spawning offshore with the presence of eggs.

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CFF’s epibenthic sled to be used for the winter flounder survey

We will conduct surveys in collaboration with commercial fishermen.  The following stations  were selected using historical data collected by CFF, input from commercial fishermen, and discussions with FSF, RI DEM, and CFRF to best cover the area of interest.

SK map winterflounder  survey 2_pixels resizedHow you can help…

If you have information about concentrations of winter flounder near this sample area, or identify fish in spawning condition please email us at contact@cfarm.org with GPS coordinates, depth, and date/time information.