Contacts: William Hoffman, Nick Buchan, Brad Schondelmeier, and Nicole Ward
bill hoffman, nick buchan, brad schondelmeier, nicolde ward


Fisheries Dependent Investigations (FDI) collects, processes, and manages operational, biological, and economic data from state and Federal commercial fisheries. This fisheries-dependent data is collected at-sea and shore-side and is used to document fishery performance, supplement and enhance stock assessments, and support fisheries management. Data collected also strengthen MarineFisheries participation on, and contributions to, the fishery management councils, such as: New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC), Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), and Massachusetts Fishery Advisory Council. The Program enjoys close ties to the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP), and by maintaining similar sampling protocols, the state data can be incorporated into Federal databases for analyses. FDI also fills data requests to support ongoing and future fisheries research.

FDI is staffed by four full-time biologists, all based out of the Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station in Gloucester: William Hoffman (program manager), Nick Buchan, Brad Schondelmeier, and Nicole Ward.
Day to day FDI duties include:


commercial sea sampling brad

Commercial Sea Sampling

FDI conducts at-sea sampling using NEFOP protocols to support the management of state-waters trawl, gillnet, longline and dredge fisheries. Staff also provide sampling for MarineFisheries' Lobster Investigations Project, and oversee and implement sampling of our “experimental fisheries”, where new gears are tested in collaboration with commercial fishermen and the Conservation Engineering Project.





nick FDI commercial sampling

Commercial Market Sampling

FDI also sample commercial landings at fish-houses throughout the state to assist in stock assessments and characterization of commercial landings. Biologists sample landings of striped bass, spiny dogfish, black sea bass, menhaden, summer flounder, longfin squid and tautog. Age structures are processed in MarineFisheries’ Age and Growth Laboratory or delivered to NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA. Annually, FDI consult with stock assessment biologists to determine where sampling efforts should be directed.



nick independent trawl sampling

Fisheries-Independent Trawl Surveys

FDI lead the newly-implemented Industry-Based Survey for Gulf of Maine Cod, which will augment current trawl survey data used in stock assessment. This survey will conduct 50 bottom trawl tows monthly in the Gulf of Maine, from April-July and October-January. This study will be conducted for three years aboard FV Miss Emily out of Scituate, MA.

FDI staff also assist with MarineFisheries’ Resource Assessment Project, the state-waters trawl survey which has been in operation since 1978. FDI staff conduct roughly 16 seadays annually, and often serve as watch chief onboard.


bill acoustic tagging FDI

Acoustic Tagging and Telemetry Studies

Members of FDI also conduct specific fisheries-independent studies that use acoustic telemetry tags and monitoring equipment to study fish behaviors. MarineFisheries’ FDI staff maintain the largest arrays of acoustic telemetry hyprophones on the eastern seaboard to study issues such as:

    • Inshore/Offshore striped bass migration in Massachusetts waters
    • Atlantic cod spawning in the Spring Cod Conservation Zone (SCCZ)
    • Winter spawning component of Atlantic cod in Massachusetts Bay
    • Atlantic cod, haddock, and cusk post-release hook and barotrauma mortality


FDI herring sampling nicole

Atlantic Herring Portside Sampling and Bycatch Avoidance Program

FDI leads a large-scale portside sampling program with the mid-water trawl fishery for Atlantic herring and mackerel in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This program, established in 2008, has been shown to provide cost-effective, high quality data for both research and management uses. The primary use of the data is to inform the River Herring Bycatch Avoidance Programs operated jointly with commercial fishermen and UMass-Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST). This program is now funded by the Atlantic Herring Research Set-Aside Program, whereby fishermen generate funds to sustain the ongoing research.