NEW BEDFORD — Tentative results from the second experimental yellowtail flounder survey strongly suggest that the fish are far more plentiful than most scientists believe.
Dr. Kevin Stokesbury of the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology said that the eight trawls counted so far from the trip indicate plentiful yellowtail on Georges Bank, which is something that scallopers have contended for years.
Stokesbury made his comments during a presentation about SMAST to the newly reorganized Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, which met this week in New Bedford. The institute is intended to combine the state and the university, along with the industry, to develop new science around fisheries.
Stokesbury's team, financed by donations of equipment, boat and food and by part of a $425,000 state grant, returned from an eight-day expedition on Wednesday. The goal was to use experimental videos and advanced net design to count fish.
Yellowtail are of particular interest since they are a "choke species" with very low quotas. Since scallops and yellowtail share the bottom, scallopers would incidentally catch their quota of yellowtail far before catching their scallop quotas, and they would be required to stop fishing.