February 20, 2019
NEFSC Science and Research Director Jon Hare is stepping into the blogging business for a while. He’ll be updating readers as we restart our research year in the run-up to our 2019 field season. Go, Jon!
Starting our new year in February has been an adventure for the NEFSC. Stakeholders from across the region have been in touch with me and others on our staff asking about our plans for the rest of the year.
Almost everyone has heard about “the machinery of government” and I have had a chance recently to see the upside of it: the ability of our staff to quickly assess priorities and get on with delivering quality science to marine researchers, resource managers, and business operators.
This blog is generally used to highlight field work. Since I don’t do too much of that anymore (the downside of the director’s chair!) I have decided to use the blog to give updates on the status of projects that our stakeholders have asked about the most in recent weeks. I will be writing more of these as we gear up for spring and summer.
So here goes:
2019 Science Status Update 1, by Jon Hare
Our spring bottom trawl survey aboard the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow is set to leave Newport, RI March 9. That’s a few days later than first planned, but we are also extending the cruise by a few days. We plan to complete a full survey. This fieldwork is always influenced by weather, as well as vessel and equipment performance, so our staff is trained to make adjustments while still obtaining the best possible data.
Our Canadian colleagues are leaving this week for their regular bottom trawl survey which, as usual, includes some stations in U.S. waters of the Gulf of Maine. The NEFSC research vessel Gloria Michelle is on track to complete the annual spring trawl survey of Massachusetts state waters.
This time of year is also key for our work to recover endangered North Atlantic right whales. In comparison with last year’s zero newborns, there’s good news from the calving grounds off the southeastern U.S.: 7 new right whale calves have been confirmed so far this year. Our aerial surveys in the Northeast were also busy this winter with a large number of whales sighted south of Cape Cod. These sightings triggered short-term protection areas for these animals.
We will be revising our stock assessment plans for the remainder of the year. We are working through timelines for biological sample and data processing, analyses, meetings, and other activities that underlie the many assessment products completed every year. We are in ongoing contact with fishery management partners in the region as we set priorities.
That’s it for my first blog. Let me know what you want to hear about in my next one!
NEFSC Science and Research Director