Spring 2019 Longline Survey Off to a Good Start

F/V Tenacious II and F/V Mary Elizabeth returned to port on May 2 and May 3, respectively, from their second trips of the Cooperative Research Branch’s spring bottom longline survey in the Gulf of Maine. The vessels have been staffed by Dave McElroy, Giovanni Gianesin, Dominique St. Amand, Elizabeth Marchetti, and Calvin Alexander for the first two trips.

Collectively, both vessels have sampled 19 stations, with 11 of the stations located in
the Western Gulf of Maine and the other 8 stations in the Eastern Gulf of Maine.
Eighteen of the sampled stations have been rough bottom (rocky bottomed) and
the other smooth bottom (sand/mud bottom).

cusk-holding-tank mbl-brodet

Cusk in a holding tank at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Photo credit:  NOAA Fisheries/Alison Brodet

Live fish were retained by both vessels from their first trips for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Atlantic cod, cusk, haddock, pollock, wrymouth, longhorn sculpin and thorny skate were collected and handed over to Alison Brodet from the aquarium.


Pollock, haddock, longhorn sculpin and thorny skate in holding tank at the Marine Biological
Laboratory, Wood Hole. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Alison Brodet

The catch in the Western Gulf of Maine consisted of haddock, cusk, Atlantic wolffish, Atlantic halibut, red hake, thorny skates and spiny dogfish. Eastern Gulf of Maine stations produced catches of Atlantic halibut, haddock, Blackbelly rosefish, cusk, pollock, Atlantic cod, white hake and spiny dogfish. A 200 lb. Porbeagle shark was also caught, tagged and released at one the eastern stations. What could possibly be the largest cusk ever encountered in the history of the longline survey was caught on F/V Mary Elizabeth. It measured 99 cm (about 39 inches) long!

record cusk

The record-breaking cusk was measured at 99 centimeters or about 39 inches long. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Dominique St. Amand

The teams are headed back out at sea for the weekend. Stay tuned to see what they catch next!

Calvin Alexander
Northeast Cooperative Research Program