Researchers are working with commercial fishermen to put electronic tags on hundreds of monkfish (Lophius americanus) in the waters of southern New England and the Gulf of Maine to track where the commercially important fish goes during its lifetime, and to answer other questions about its biology.
"Although monkfish is the highest valued finfish in the northeast U.S., aspects of the fish's basic biology and behavior are poorly understood, such as their migration patterns, what depths they live in and how they use habitat," said Anne Richards, one of the study's lead investigators and a monkfish expert at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.
Information from the tagged fish could also help determine whether there is one monkfish population throughout the northwestern Atlantic Ocean or distinct northern and southern stocks, she said. "This is a critical question that has proven very difficult to answer. It's important not only for understanding the population's biology, but also important for managing the fisheries that harvest monkfish."
Richards, NEFSC colleague Larry Alade, and researchers at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth began the tagging project last year. Two commercial gillnet boats, the F/V C.W. Griswold with Captain Tim Caldwell from Scituate, Mass. and the F/V Gertrude H with Captain Ted Platz from Newport, R.I., are collaborating to capture monkfish for the study.
"This study is going to give us a much better understanding about monkfish migration patterns, and that's a great thing," said Caldwell, who said the new archival tag will provide much more data than the previous tags he has worked with. "Just getting a few tagged fish returned will give us a huge amount of information."
"As members of the monkfish advisory panel, Tim and I see firsthand the difficulty associated with managing a data-
|Contact: Shelley Dawicki|
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center