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 Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), and Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission). The project 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. The project also fills data requests to support ongoing and future fisheries research.
Commercial Fisheries Sampling
The project 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.
Commercial Market Sampling
Commercial landings are sampled 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, Massachusetts. Annually, FDI consult with stock assessment biologists to determine where sampling efforts should be directed.
Atlantic Herring Portside Sampling and Bycatch Avoidance Program
The Division 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.
Acoustic Tagging and Telemetry Studies
Members of FDI conduct specific fisheries-independent studies that use acoustic telemetry tags and monitoring equipment to study fish behaviors. Staff maintain the largest arrays of acoustic telemetry hyprophones on the eastern seaboard to study issues such as: