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Public-private partnership helps monitor fish populations
Date:12/5/2011

Managing commercial and recreational fisheries is a complex and sometimes contentious process in which fishing interests, scientists, and regulatory agencies don't always see eye-to-eye.

Researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) are now working with commercial fishermen to collect and share fisheries data in a cooperative venture that promises to build trust and foster the mutual goal of sustainable and profitable fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

The VIMS team, led by fisheries scientists Rob Latour, Chris Bonzek, and Jim Gartland, is a key part of NEAMAPthe NorthEast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program. The NEAMAP Mid-Atlantic/Southern New England Near Shore Trawl Survey team at VIMS also includes Jameson Gregg, Evan McOmber, Deb Gauthier, Melanie Chattin, Greg Mears, Kristene Parsons, and Kevin Spanik.

Since 2007, the VIMS team has partnered for one spring and one fall survey each year with the crew of the fishing vessel Darana R, a 90-foot commercial trawler out of Hampton, Virginia. The boat is captained by Jimmy Ruhle from Wanchese, North Carolina, with help from mates Bobby Ruhle and Rigo Rodriguez. When not doing survey work, the trio mainly fishes squid and herring.

Gartland, who leads the VIMS team at sea, says "The way we conduct our surveycooperative research where scientists team up with commercial fishermenis coming more into favor. One of its big advantages is that it allows us, as scientists, to do what we're best atdata collection and analysis, and lets the fisherman do what they're best atfishing and making the gear work correctly and consistently. Putting that together makes a great partnership."

Each survey keeps the team at sea for four to five weeks depending on weather and other factors. They tow a trawl net for 20 minutes at 150 randomly selected sites per cruise, in inshore waters from Cape Hatteras north to Cape Cod. All told, they've spent 262
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Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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