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Friday, September 22, 2017
by Larry Jock

NEFSC Fall Research Cruises Will Continue with Some Modifications


The annual NEFSC Fall Bottom Trawl Survey will be conducted on the NOAA Ship Pisces, which is a fishery survey research vessel similar to the Bigelow. Only Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine will be surveyed. The two most southerly areas, the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England have been dropped.

If all goes smoothly in preparing the Pisces to support the survey, October 16 is the target start date carrying on through November 20.

Fishing gear will be moved from the Bigelow onto the Pisces, and some devices will be installed for monitoring trawl performance while the gear is fishing. Supplies and equipment needed for the survey are already aboard the Bigelow, and will be transferred to the Pisces. The modifications to Pisces are underway.

In a typical year, the Fall Bottom Trawl Survey occupies an average of 377 stations across the Northeast Continental Shelf from the Cape Hatteras to the northern Gulf of Maine in four segments, or legs. Each leg covers a different area beginning in the south and ending in the north.

The number of stations in the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine survey areas will be similar to past years. Fewer data will be collected at each station because Pisces has less fish handling capacity than the Bigelow. However, samples critical for stock assessments will be collected, including lengths, weights, and hard parts used for aging fish (usually scales and ear bones). Two other NEFSC research cruises planned for this fall were also delayed by the Bigelow repair, and will be conducted on other ships.

The first leg of the Fall Ecosystem Monitoring cruise has been moved to the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, an oceanographic research vessel. This cruise collects oceanographic data and plankton samples and has been conducted from the Gunter in the past. There is no firm plan for Leg 2 of this cruise, but the Bigelow is an option if it is ready as scheduled. A beaked whale sighting survey was moved onto a chartered vessel, the R/V Sharp, operated by the University of Delaware, and has been completed with fewer objectives than originally planned.

Meanwhile, repairs continue on schedule for the NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow. The ship is expected back in service in early November 2017.

Read this update on the Northeast Fisheries Science Center website.


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