Fishing Industry-NEFSC-MARACOOS team awarded funding by ASMFC Mid-Atlantic Collaborative Fisheries Program

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A team of fishing industry veterans and supporting scientists has received a two year grant to unlock the secret of Atlantic mackerel habitats and migrations on the US east coast. With support from the industry-driven ASMFC Mid-Atlantic Collaborative Fisheries Program, the team will focus on a project titled:

“Collaborative development of a winter habitat model for Atlantic Mackerel, “version 2.0”, for the identification of “cryptic” habitats and estimation of population availability to assessment surveys and the fishery”

The effort is intended to provide relevant information for the upcoming federal Atlantic mackerel stock assessment, which will be conducted in 2017. A similar collaborative approach to habitat modeling was used for, and gained acceptance into, the federal Butterfish stock assessment and yielded a directed fishery quota which benefitted fishermen and processors in the Mid-Atlantic region while simultaneously allowing managers to more proactively manage the Butterfish resource as a sustainable fishery.

The Atlantic Mackerel fishery has existed on the US east coast since the 1800s, and has supported catches in the hundreds of thousands of tonnes even in the dory fishing and schooner fishery days. The foreign fleets reportedly harvested over 500,000 tonnes in the 1960-1980 period. The US industry harvest since the 1980 "Americanization" of the fisheries has never exceeded 70,000 tonnes. In recent years the fishery has presented a puzzle to fishermen as historic mackerel migration patterns between the US and Canadian waters have shifted and the mackerel have not been available to shore-based US fishermen.

This project initiative grew out of a collaborative meeting held in late 2015, convened by NOAA NEFSC Habitat Ecologist John Manderson, with fishing industry veterans, federal fisheries scientists and managers, stock assessment scientists, and IOOS scientists. MARACOOS Stakeholder Liaison Peter Moore, recruited in 2012 from the east coast commercial fishery, is in the mix as he continues his active engagement with the Mid-Atlantic commercial and recreational fishing industries.

The project team is composed of the following individuals:

John Manderson/ NOAA NEFSC Habitat Ecologist
Bill Bright/ Veteran Mackerel Fisherman, Homeport of Cape May, NJ
Peter Moore/ Mackerel Fishing industry Veteran and now MARACOOS Stakeholder Liaison and MAFMC-ASMFC Advisor
Greg DiDomenico/ Ex Director of Garden State Seafood Assn and MARACOOS User Council member
Josh Kohut/ Rutgers-MARACOOS Physical Oceanographer
Mitch Roffer/ Physical Oceanographer and Owner of Roffers Ocean Fishing Forecasting Services

Peter Moore will serve as Project Manager and can be contacted for more information: moore@maracoos.org