The Gulf of Maine (GOM) bottom longline survey is ongoing even though we have been dealing with challenges presented by the unfavorable weather conditions. Both vessels have completed four trips each and have collectively sampled 31 stations in the western and central Gulf of Maine.
Catches have been very heavy in the central GOM consisting mainly of spiny dogfish, thorny skates, white hake, Atlantic cod, haddock, cusk, as well as some red hake and goosefish. Staff have been busy collecting otoliths, or earbones, for ageing and sex and maturity data from larger sized Atlantic cod, haddock, white hake and cusk. This data supplements other NEFSC survey data.
Thorny skates are also tagged as part of our collaborative work with Dr. Jeff Kneebone of the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, and genetic samples were collected for genetics work being done at the University of Florida, led by Dr. Gavin Naylor. Dr. Gavin’s project is conducting a comprehensive analysis of thorny skate genetics across the species range in the Atlantic. They hope to better understand gene flow in the species, potential substructure in the population across their range, and the historical demography among regions.
A newly designed prototype for horizontal viewing of the bottom was tested on F/V Mary Elizabeth. It is hoped that this design would be more stable and improve the quality and consistency of bottom videos.
There are 14 stations left in the eastern Gulf of Maine, located at the outermost edge of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). If the weather cooperates we anticipate two more trips would be sufficient to complete the survey.
Northeast Cooperative Research Program