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Fish Habitats

Fish habitat research helps us at the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to understand where fish live and what they eat.

DMF conducts research and analyzes data to assess marine fisheries habitats in Massachusetts waters. This work helps us understand where fish are, what they eat, and how they are changing over time in the Commonwealth. With our understanding of fish habitats, we can also better understand if they are vulnerable to impacts.

Important Fish Resource Areas

In order to identify areas with higher than average resource value and identify benthic or pelagic habitats that could be particularly important for fish, the Division of Marine Fisheries maps the seafloor and uses data to examine where concentrations of fish might be. We also participate on several fisheries management committees that focus on fish habitat identification and mapping. Below are links to some of our studies.

Additional Resources for

Environmental DNA

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is genetic material from an organism that enters the aquatic environment from metabolic waste, shed cells, mucus, or from carcasses.  eDNA sampling has been used to detect fish in many aquatic environments. DMF is working on developing an eDNA approach to supplement other field sampling to better understand where and when fish live. Field sampling for eDNA is fairly simple and inexpensive and consequently holds the potential for detailed temporal and spatial coverage. 

Isotopes

Stable isotopes help us understand where fish have been and what they have been eating. DMF is interested in examining trends in fish isotopic composition over time so we can improve our management of anthropogenic activities.

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