Cooperative Gulf of Maine Fall Bottom Longline Survey Underway

Note: This is the start of the fifth year of the cooperative Gulf of Maine bottom longline survey, conducted with two commercial longline fishing vessels and staff from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Cooperative Research Program. 

The 50-foot F/V Mary Elizabeth and 40-foot F/V Tenacious II departed over the weekend of October 13-14 to begin the first leg of the Gulf of Maine bottom longline survey.  F/V Mary Elizabeth departed from Situate, Massachusetts on Oct. 13 with Brian Gervelis and Dominique St. Amand onboard, while F/V Tenacious II departed Sesuit Harbor in Dennis, Massachusetts on Oct. 14 with Dave McElroy and Christopher Sarro onboard. These two small fixed-gear vessels provide a great platform and expertise for completing this type of survey in the Gulf of Maine. The survey deploys tub-trawl longlines pre-baited with squid, similar to how vessels of this type fish commercially.

squid-baited-hooks-longline-gear

Squid baited hooks of bottom longline gear. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Dave McElroy

Collectively both vessels sampled 10 stations in the western Gulf of Maine; nine stations were rough bottom and the other a smooth bottom. The survey focuses effort on complex hard bottom by substratifying the survey strata into rough and smooth bottom type using a depth based algorithm and the NOAA chart data. One of the primary objectives is to collect supplementary data in these hard bottom habitats to complement the other NEFSC surveys in these areas. The catches in the first trip were dominated by spiny dogfish with some Atlantic cod, haddock, red hake, cusk, four species of skates, one small Atlantic halibut, and one Atlantic wolffish.

highrisers-on-stern

F/V Mary Elizabeth with high risers for the bottom longline gear. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Dominique St. Amand

The survey also collects temperature and depth data, and a current instrument is deployed on each end of the gear to measure the current velocity and direction over the gear during deployment.

longline-gear-deployed

Bottom longline being deployed on F/V Tenacious II. Current meter (bottom right) is tethered to both ends of the gear. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Dave McElroy

Both vessels returned to their respective ports late in the afternoon on Monday, Oct. 15, due to the onset of unfavorable weather. Once the weather breaks the crews will be headed out to complete stations in the central and eastern portions of the Gulf of Maine.

Dave McElroy
Cooperative Research Program

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