TR-38 King, J. R., M. J. Camisa, and V. M. Manfredi. 2010. Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries trawl survey effort, list of species, and bottom temperature trends, 1978-2007.
MarineFisheries contracts the 65-foot NOAA research vessel, Gloria Michelle, for these surveys. The objective of this project, the east coast's longest ongoing inshore survey, is to obtain fishery independent data on the distribution, abundance, size and age composition of finfish as well as some crustaceans and mollusks. The project's staff prepares scientific reports and gives technical presentations to fishery managers for use in developing policies governing the use and protection of fishery resources.
Stock assessment analyses rely on various sources of information other than surveys to estimate resource abundance and trends. The principle information comes from recreational and commercial fisheries. Fishery-independent surveys operate differently from other types of fishing. While other fishing operations seek out the greatest aggregations of fish to maximize catch rates, trawl surveys fish in a standardized manner over a wide area to annually provide an unbiased population abundance index. Our survey is based on a stratified random design that uses five bio-geographic regions. We divide each region into depth zones called strata. About 100 stations from each survey are allocated based on approximate proportion of each stratum's area. Survey tow location is randomly selected within each stratum and based on presence of "good" bottom and absence of fixed gear.
Most of the recreationally - and commercially important fish species caught within state waters belong to stocks with wide geographic distributions. With this perspective, project data have supplemented the National Marine Fisheries Service/ Northeast Fishery Science Center (NMFS/NEFSC) and Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) stock assessments in various ways and results have been used by ASMFC and regional management councils in managing inter-jurisdictional fishery resources. Project personnel have published peer reviewed scientific papers, serve on many interstate scientific committees and working groups investigating both single and multi-species assemblages.
Although the trawl survey captures about 90 different species each year, project emphasis has been directed toward sampling some of the state's most important finfish resources. These include winter flounder, summer flounder, Atlantic cod, scup and black sea bass.
The Resource Assessment Project also conducts an annual estuarine seine survey to monitor spawning success of winter flounder in six estuaries on southern Cape Cod. We sample estuaries with a small mesh haul seine on the top half of the tide when winter flounder young-of-the-year are feeding in the intertidal and shallow subtidal zones.