NOAA Fisheries' plan to shift at least a portion of its spring and fall trawl surveys to fishing industry boats received a generally positive reaction from fishing stakeholders, who viewed it as at least a start to bridging the gap between scientists and fishermen.

Their question, however, is whether it will go far enough toward developing more accurate and dependable groundfish trawl surveys that are instrumental in generating stock assessments used to determine annual catch shares and allocations.

The Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition, which has promoted the benefits of fishery-dependent data while urging NOAA Fisheries to develop a more accurate design for the trawl surveys, said in a statement that increased industry participation presents "an opportunity to improve the data underlying the stock abundance estimates by increasing sampling density and improved survey design."

"In general, we're encouraged by the fact that they're open to considering this," said Vito Giacalone, policy director at the Northeast Seafood Coalition. "But what we'd also like to see at the same time is an improvement in the survey design and how that data is treated after it's collected."

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