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

days at sea during the last 4 years, plus countless hours in the lab at VIMS processing samples and analyzing data.

Their datarecording factors such as length, weight, age, sex ratio, and diethave now been used to help manage commercially and recreationally important species throughout the coastal waters of the northeastern U.S. These include spot, croaker, drum, summer flounder, and weakfish in the more southerly waters, and black sea bass, scup, squid, spiny dogfish, and winter flounder toward the north. NOAA's latest estimate of the annual ex-vessel value of commercial landings from these waters is $283 million (2008 data).

"The selection of a team from VIMS to manage this interstate survey reflects the reputation our scientists have earned through decades of monitoring work in Chesapeake Bay," says VIMS Dean and Director John Wells. "Their work helps ensure sustainable fisheries not only along the Atlantic seaboard, but also in the Bay, since many of the fishes they monitor spend considerable time in local waters both as juveniles and adults."

Praise for the survey also comes from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who in a letter to former U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke wrote "The Inshore Ocean Trawl Survey is a model of cooperative research... Along with New York, NEAMAP surveys will benefit all of the Atlantic coast states north of South Carolina."

Even though the researchers keep only five fish of each species and size group (small, medium, and large) for full analysis per towquickly identifying, weighing, measuring, and releasing the resttheir workload rapidly adds up. In 2010 alone, they caught and released 1,087,000 fishes weighing approximately 171,961 pounds, recorded the length of 143,642 of those, and spent months in the lab studying the stomach contents of 7,586 fishes and using ear bones to age 10,434 others. All told, the team has so far recorded 146 different species, including boreal, temperate, and tropical for
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Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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