Industry-Based Survey for Gulf of Maine cod

DMF is conducting an Industry-Based trawl Survey (IBS) in the Gulf of Maine. The purpose of the study is to help scientists, fishermen, and managers better understand the biology and population levels of Atlantic cod.

In recent years the Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod stock status is poor. This has led to significant cuts in fishermen's catch limits. However, fishermen believe that the cod status is better than currently assessed. Given these factors, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) started a new Industry-Based Survey for GOM cod (Cod IBS). DMF is administering a 3-year study in the southwestern part of the GOM where the majority of cod reside. DMF relies on input from fishermen, the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, NOAA Fisheries, and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in the design of the study.

Survey goals

The Cod IBS will:

  • Provide resource data and information for use in assessments
  • Test fishermen’s hypothesis about GOM cod redistributing offshore in response to warming water
  • Show importance of a GOM cod survey for improving our understanding of the distribution of cod at times and in areas when NEFSC surveys are not performed
  • Get more scientific data on groundfish stocks in the survey area
  • Enable minimum estimates of swept-area biomass
  • Determine the cod survey’s potential for providing indices of abundance

Survey area

The area to be surveyed includes Massachusetts and New Hampshire state waters and federal waters that extend from Cape Elizabeth, south to Cape Cod Bay. In waters between latitude 43°0’ and 43°30’ the survey extends as far east as longitude 69°30’. In waters south of latitude 43°0’ the survey extends to the eastern boundary of the Western Gulf of Maine closure (69°55’).

Cod IBS survey area map

About the current survey

DMF completed the second year of the Cod IBS in January 2018. The third year of survey occurred from April to July 2018 and will resume from October 2018 through January 2019.

DMF will post project updates on this webpage with links. There will also be announcements and information available through written notices, emails, text alerts, social media accounts, and VHF radio on Channel 16.

Additional Resources

2003-2007 Industry-Based Survey

DMF first launched this collaborative research survey in 2003. One and a half million dollars was provided by NOAA Fisheries for this survey work involving 10-day survey cruises using four commercial vessels fishing standardized bottom trawls. An important part of the survey design was the selection of some stations by fishermen and their involvement in determining sampling strata (distinct areas with set numbers of stations). The objective of this survey was to collect data that would improve our knowledge of fish populations and help inform fishery management decisions. 

To read the final reports, visit our technical reports webpage for TR-49 (2003-2005) and TR-50 (2006-2007). 


Contact   for Industry-Based Survey for Gulf of Maine cod


DMF Staff Directory View 


(617) 727-3337


Gloucester Field Office
30 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930

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