Excerpt: Research in motion

Fishermen and scientists haul back the last tows in a spring survey of East Coast fish

By Linc Bedrosian

It's a little after 6 a.m. when the 90-foot Darana R leaves Point Judith, R.I., on the last day of the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program's spring 2013 trawl survey of Mid-Atlantic and southern New England nearshore waters.

The mission on this gray, foggy, drizzly late May morning is to make survey tows at the final two of 150 stations the NEAMAP crew has sampled on a cruise that began April 24.

Skipper Jimmy Ruhle, a veteran Wanchese, N.C., fisherman and longtime industry advocate, was named a 2004 NF Highliner Award winner in part for his work to improve fisheries data. He and the Darana R became involved in the survey project in 2008.

"At first, I didn't think I could do it," Ruhle says, sitting at the helm. "There would be five or six people on a boat with room for three or four."

But he was also frustrated with the data being used to make fisheries management decisions.

"At that point, I was fed up with the science. I wasn't comfortable with it," Ruhle says. "I agreed to do the pilot program to prove we could do it, and that I could trust these people. The pilot program showed I could, which was very appealing."

Excerpt: BETA data

Collaborative input reveals real-time fish habitat and ocean conditions for East Coast fishermen

By Jessica Hathaway

This summer, New Jersey gillnetter and NF Highliner Kevin Wark noticed a distinct difference in water color east and west of Hudson Canyon between New York and New Jersey.

"Kevin called me and said, 'There's bait, but there's no pelagics,' no fish," says Greg DiDomenico, executive director of New Jersey's Garden State Seafood Association. He sent an email to Rutgers professor Josh T. Kohut in hopes of getting a scratch at an answer. "Boom," says DiDomenico. "He had it within a couple of minutes." The cause was an onslaught of summer rain and turbidity in the water.

The rapid response was thanks to a groundbreaking collaboration between research scientists and fishermen. Kohut, assistant professor for Marine and Coastal Sciences, has been involved with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association for Coastal Ocean Observing Systems, or MARACOOS, since its inception. The project formed officially in 2007 when NOAA established the Integrated Ocean Observing System as an umbrella for 11 regional coastal observing systems.

MARACOOS covers the region from Massachusetts' Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. It provides information to the National Weather Service, Navy, Coast Guard and Army Corps. The system has assets in the water — autonomous underwater vehicles, remotely operated vehicles, gliders, buoys — high-frequency (Doppler) radar that collects ocean air stats, and access to NOAA satellite data. The program also incorporates oceanographic models running at Rutgers in New Brunswick, N.J.; the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.; University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth; and the University of Connecticut in Storrs, as well as the data management to make all this information available to the public and to vested parties like the Coast Guard.

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