Fisheries Dependent Investigations 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 Council, and Massachusetts Fishery Advisory Council. The Program enjoys close ties to the federal sea-sampling program, and by maintaining similar sampling protocols, the state data can be incorporated into federal databases for analyses.
FDI is staffed by three full-time biologists. William Hoffman (program manager), Brad Schondelmeier, and Nick Buchan (both aquatic biologist I) are based out of the Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station in Gloucester and Brian Kelly (aquatic biologist II) is based out of the Quest Center in New Bedford.
Fisheries sampled include: pot fisheries targeting American lobster, black sea bass, and scup; trawl fisheries targeting groundfish, squid, silver hake, Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel; hook fisheries targeting groundfish, striped bass, spiny dogfish, haddock, and scup; gillnet fisheries targeting groundfish, and spiny dogfish; and seine fisheries targeting Atlantic herring, and menhaden. Staff also oversee and sample our "experimental fisheries" where new gears are often put to the test in state and federal waters.
FDI staff also frequently assists other projects and studies within MarineFisheries to collect data and information at-sea and shore-side. Some of these projects and studies include: Resource Assessment Project’s spring and fall surveys, Marine Recreational Information Project (MRIP) sampling of headboat recreational anglers, Protected Species Program’s turtle disentanglement study, and the Conservation Engineering Program by developing, testing, and monitoring fishing gear capable to reduce by-catch and impacts on habitat.
Members of FDI also conduct specific fisheries-independent studies that use acoustic telemetry monitoring equipment to study inshore-offshore striped bass migration and Atlantic cod spawning activities in the Spring Cod Conservation Zone (SCCZ). Although still in its early stages, the cod telemetry studies have had a significant impact on cod management in state waters by assisting state managers with identifying the location and timing of vital cod spawning aggregations.
Funded through multiple grants, FDI is also conducting the small pelagic fisheries bycatch study. The goal of this study is to document landing activities and record and quantify catch composition of fish landed in Massachusetts by the midwater trawl and purse seine fisheries. By weight the small pelagic fishery is the largest fishery in the state of Massachusetts, and in a typical fishing year they land more than half of all landings of Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic sea herring caught in the Northwest Atlantic. Information collected through this study is being used collaboratively by neighboring states and the NEFMC Herring committee to assess the fisheries performance and impact on non-targeted species.