What is NEAMAP?

  • darana r.jpg
     F/V Darana R captained by Jimmy Ruhle  
  • neamap_net.jpg
     NEAMAP trawl net  
  • ruhle_unloading_codend.jpg
     Unloading a large NEAMAP catch  
  • basket_neamap.jpg
     Basket of fish from a NEAMAP tow  
  • NEAMAP demonstration tow
    NEAMAP demonstration tow  NEAMAP personnel welcome interested parties to participate in short 2-3 hour cruises to experience sampling aboard the F/V Darana R, during the Fall (Sept./Oct.) and Spring (April/May) surveys. Previous demo tows have taken place out of Hampton, VA, Montauk, NY, and Port Judith, RI. If you are interested in participating, please continue to check this page for updated information and contact Jim Gartland at (804) 684-7546, jgartlan@vims.edu, or Chris Bonzek at (804) 684-7291, cfb@vims.edu.  
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NEAMAP stands for NorthEast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program.  NEAMAP was developed to meet the needs of fisheries management and stock assessment activities in the northeastern United States. NEAMAP is an integrated, cooperative state/federal data collection program. Currently, three large-scale trawl surveys exist under the NEAMAP banner. These are NEAMAP - Maine / New Hampshire (conducted by the Maine Department of Marine Resources), NEAMAP - Massachusetts (led by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries) and the NEAMAP - Mid Atlantic which is housed at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

NEAMAP Mid Atlantic began in 2006 with a fall pilot survey and in 2008 began conducting both a spring and fall survey.  NEAMAP samples from Cape Cod, MA south to Cape Hatteras, NC and targets both juvenile and adult fishes.Its mission is to facilitate the collection and dissemination of fishery-independent information obtained in the Northeast for use by state and federal fisheries management agencies, the fishing industry (commercial and recreational), researchers, and others requesting such information. The intent of NEAMAP is not to change existing programs, but to coordinate and standardize procedures and improve data quality and accessibility.



Survey Goals & Technical Objectives
  1. Developing fishery-independent surveys for areas where current sampling is either inadequate or absent
  2. Coordinating data collection among existing surveys as well as any new surveys
  3. Providing for efficient management and dissemination of data
  4. Establishing outreach programs
NEAMAP's Technical Objectives
  1. Estimate the abundance, biomass, length-frequency distribution, age-structure, sex ratio, maturity schedules diet-composition, and other assessment-related parameters of the various fishes of management interest inhabiting the sampling area
  2. Estimate the abundance, biomass, and length-frequency distribution of all other fishes collected by the survey as well as invertebrates of management interest
  3. Collect hydrographic and atmospheric data coincident with the monitoring of living marine resources
  4. Identify and monitor essential fish habitat in the regions sampled by the survey
  5. Serve as a platform for the collection of additional samples and data for collaborating investigators, as project resources allow
Field Methods
Stations Vessel


Species Data

dsc_0100.jpgAfter the completion of each tow, the catch is sorted by species and modal size groups. For species of management interest, a subsample from each size group i selected for detailed processing. Experience shows that a subsample of 3-5 individuals (3 for very common species, 5 for all others) per species-size group per tow is sufficient for this full processing.

The data collected from each of these subsampled specimens includes:

  • Length (to the nearest mm)
  • Total weight (g)
  • Sex (macroscopic)
  • Eviscerated weight (g)

Stomachs are removed and those containing prey are preserved onboard for subsequent diet analysis at the shore-based VIMS laboratory. Otoliths or other appropriate ageing structures (e.g., vertebrae, scales, spines, etc.) are removed from each subsampled specimen for later age determination

Species Selected for Detailed Processing:                             
• Alewife
• Black drum
• Red drum
• Striped bass
• All Skate species
• Black sea bass
• Scup
• Summer flounder
• American shad
• Blueback herring
• Silver hake
• Tautog
• Atlantic cod
• Bluefish
 Smooth dogfish
• Weakfish
• Atlantic croaker
• Butterfish
• Spanish mackerel
• Windowpane
• Atlantic herring
• Haddock
• Speckled trout
• Winter flounder
• Atlantic mackerel
• Monkfish
• Spiny dogfish
• Yellowtail flounder
• Atlantic menhaden
• Pollock
• Spot
For Specimens Not Selected for Detailed Processing:

For all species, managed and unmanaged aggregate weights are recorded by species-size group, and individual length measurements (which also yield count data) are taken for either all or a representative subsample.


GIS Maps

Catch Maps

These interactive maps provide a dropdown menu to select a species to view catch numbers and biomass integrated with a quantitative chart summary and water temperature overlay.

Archived Catch Maps

Largest Fishes Map Tour

Abundance Indices
• alewife  American goosefish (Monkfish)
• American lobster  American shad
• Atlantic cod  Atlantic croaker
 Atlantic menhaden  Atlantic menhaden
 bay anchovy  black drum
 black sea bass  blueback herring
 bluefish  brown shrimp
 butterfish  clearnose skate
 horseshoe crab  kingfish spp.
 little skate  longfin inshore squid
 sandbar shark  scup
 silver hake  smooth buttefly ray
 smooth dogfish  spanish mackerel
 spiny butterfly ray  spiny dogfish
 spot  striped anchovy
 striped bass  summer flounder
 tautog  weakfish
 white shrimp  windowpane flounder
 winter flounder  winter skate
 yellowtail flounder
Data Uses

Fisheries data collected by the NEAMAP Nearshore Trawl Survey has been requested by stock assessment scientists and used in a variety of analytical applications.  Because of the relatively short time series of abundance data available from this program, however, data users mainly have focused on the incorporation of the biological information collected by this survey to date.  Specifically, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and/or the Mid-Atlantic FisheryManagement Council (MAFMC) have requested NEAMAP data on bluefish, black sea bass, butterfish, scup, skates (all species) spiny dogfish, summer flounder, and winter flounder.  With the exception of butterfish and skates, all of these species are assessed and managed in conjunction with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Besides incorporating data on fishes, NMFS has also requested catch and biological data on Atlantic sea scallop for incorporation into the assessment for this species.  In addition to the species listed above, alewife, Atlantic croaker, blueback herring, spot, and weakfish data collected by NEAMAP have been requested by the ASMFC.

In nearly each instance where the incorporation of abundance data was not possible, the assessment scientists expressed their intent to include these data in future assessments (when the time series has become more established).  These statements indicate that the lack of inclusion of the NEAMAP abundance data to date is merely a function of the length of the survey history, and not a reflection of the data quality.  It is also anticipated that, as this survey continues to develop, the program will begin to support more complex ecosystem-based analyses. The NEAMAP survey design, along with all data collection and processing protocols, were approved through the peer review process in December 2008.

Uses of Data Generated by the NEAMAP Mid-Atlantic/Southern New England Nearshore Trawl Survey, 2007-2017

Assessment Related (NMFS & ASMFC)

            Data provided to & incorporated into past assessments

  • American lobster – Abundance, distribution, & length
  • Atlantic croaker – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Atlantic mackerel (pending) – Abundance, distribution, & length
  • Atlantic menhaden – Predator diet data for inclusion in Multispecies VPA
  • Atlantic sturgeon – Abundance data for ESA listing and subsequent re-evaluation
  • Black sea bass – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Bluefish – Abundance, distribution, length, & age
  • Butterfish – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Longfin squid – Abundance, distribution, & length
  • River herring (Alewife & Blueback) – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, & maturity
  • Scup – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Spot – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Summer flounder – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity & age
  • Weakfish – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Windowpane flounder (pending) – Length & age (likely abundance in next benchmark)
  • Winter flounder – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age

Data provided to but not incorporated* into an assessment

            *Due to short time series of data available relative to benchmark timing, NOT because of data quality.  Likely to be included in next

  benchmark for each.

  • Atlantic sea scallop – Abundance, distribution, & length
  • Black drum – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Horseshoe crab – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, & maturity
  • Red drum – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Skate complex (Clearnose, Little, & Winter) – Abundance, distribution, & length
  • Smooth dogfish – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, & maturity
  • Spiny dogfish – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, maturity, & diet
  • Striped bass – Length, sex, maturity, & age
  • Tautog – Abundance, distribution, length, sex, & maturity

State Regulations (Setting of Conservation Equivalency)

  • Scup – State of New York
  • Summer founder – State of New York & Commonwealth of Virginia

 Additional Research Efforts

  • All species (trawl caught) – sampled for development of genetic library
  • Alewife & blueback herring 
    • Collaboration to improve stock assessment with University of New Hampshire
    • Population genetics with University of California, Santa Cruz
    • Ageing exchange sponsored by ASMFC.
  • American lobster – began sampling hard parts to develop age data for this species.
  • Atlantic angel shark – investigation of distribution of this species with NMFS Pascagoula lab.
  • Atlantic croaker & spot - ageing exchange with ASMFC partners.
  • Atlantic croaker, black drum, kingfish, & spot - population genetics with South Carolina DNR.
  • Atlantic menhaden 
    • Contaminant analysis in collaboration with Seton Hall University.
    • Ageing exchange with ASMFC partners.
    • Gonad sampling to quantify fecundity and spawning periodicity.
    • Collaboration with University of Maryland to evaluate ecosystem-based reference points for this species.
  • Black sea bass 
    • Ageing exchange with NMFS & Massachusetts DMF
    • Hard part (scale/otolith) comparison for ageing.
    • Provided samples to University of Maryland for diet investigation based on stable isotope analysis
  • Bluefin tuna - investigation of prey species as a source of contaminant loads.
  • Butterfish - delineation of preferred habitat with NMFS, Sandy Hook Laboratory.
  • Butterfly rays – supported investigation of taxonomy and life history of butterfly rays in the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Coastal bats - delineation of populations with the University of Maryland.
  • Coastal sharks & Atlantic sturgeon - tagging studies in collaboration with NMFS.
  • Coastal sharks – initiated acoustic tagging to investigate movement ecology of several large coastal shark (LCS) and small coastal shark (SCS) species.
  • Little skate - population genetics with Boston University.
  • Longfin squid - began recording sex and maturity data in 2013. To our knowledge, only long term database available for sex and maturity stage for these squid.
  • Monkfish (American Goosefish) - population genetics with the University of Madrid in Spain & Cornell University.
  • Northern puffer - population genetics with Texas A&M.
  • Scup 
    • Hard part (scale/otolith) comparison for ageing
    • Ageing exchange sponsored by ASMFC
  • Sheepshead - population genetics with Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
  • Silver hakes – supported investigation of taxonomy of these species.
  • Striped bass 
    • Sampling to identify prevalence and severity of Mycobacterium infection in the coastal migratory population
    • Investigation to quantify predatory impact in collaboration with NEFSC and in response to Congressional inquiry
    • Collaborative effort with Maryland DNR to quantify fecundity of coastal migrant population
    • Supported sampling to quantify first year growth and habitat preferences
    • Hard part (scale/otolith) comparison for ageing (ongoing)
    • Ageing exchange sponsored by ASMFC
    • Sample collection to quantify fecundity and spawning periodicity
    • Provided data to SUNY for investigation of summer flounder habitat use.
  • Silver hake - population genetics with colleagues at VIMS.
  • Smooth dogfish – satellite tagging with Florida State University.
  • Tautog - population genetics with Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
  • Weakfish – collaborated with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to investigate spatial autocorrelation in trawl survey data.
  • White shrimp – supporting efforts to quantify black-gill disease and population dynamics in the northern part of this species’ range.
  • Windowpane flounder 
    • Provided data to inform the SMAST Bycatch Avoidance System
    • Developed methods to age this species using sectioned otoliths and developed largest age database for the Southern stock.
  • Winter flounder 
    • Provided data to inform a SMAST/Coonamesset Farm winter flounder bycatch reduction study
    • Sample collection to quantify fecundity and spawning periodicity in the Southern New England stock
  • Yellowtail flounder – provided data to inform the SMAST Yellowtail Flounder Bycatch Avoidance System.
  • Quantified biogeography of Block Island & Rhode Island Sounds with University of Rhode Island to support Marine Spatial Planning efforts (Rhode Island Ocean SAMP).
  • Expanded diet sampling to generate coastwide trophic model in collaboration with SEAMAP.
  • Began working with Massachusetts DMF, Maine/New Hampshire, and NEFSC Bottom Trawl Surveys to identify and quantify possible shifts in species distributions in Northeast waters.
  • Provided data to assist those attempting to quantify populations of both Jonah and rock crabs.
  • Initiated efforts to quantify the behavior of fishes (e.g., Longfin squid and flatfishes) relative to the NEAMAP trawl, and in turn develop estimates of capture efficiency/catchability.
  • Provided data to better understand fish distribution in collaboration with Northeast Fisheries Science Center for the Northeast Regional Council.
  • Provided data in an effort to assist those attempting to quantify Essential Fish Habitat for spiny dogfish, bluefish, scup, summer flounder, and black sea bass.
  • Provide data as needed to guide efforts related to marine spatial planning
  • Provided diet data upon request as Mid-Atlantic Council explored their options in the Forage Amendment process.
  • Received over 680 visits to our online catch and diet databases since initialized in early 2012. 



NEAMAP is currently funded by NOAA & the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission