Uses of NEAMAP & ChesMMAP Trawl Survey Data in Fisheries Management
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 afunction 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.
Fishery-independent data resulting from the ChesMMAP Trawl Survey have been requested by stock assessment scientists for a variety of species. Again, because of the relatively short time series currently available for this survey, the incorporation of abundance indices generated by the ChesMMAP Survey has only been possible for two species: scup and weakfish. Similar to the situation with NEAMAP, the biological data produced by this survey have been included in the assessments for alewife, blueback herring, bluefish, butterfish, summer flounder, scup, spot, and weakfish. The assessment scientists expressed their desire to include these data in future assessments as well, again indicating that time series length, and not data quality, is the issue at hand. Currently, ChesMMAP survey data are being used to guide the assessments for Atlantic croaker and blackdrum. An informal assessment of sheepshead data collected by ChesMMAP has been supplied to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to support areview of current management regulations for this species in the Commonwealth, and summer flounder catch and length-frequency data have been used to support the liberalization of recreational harvest regulations for 2011.
From the perspective of ecosystem-based multispecies modeling and management, ChesMMAP diet data have been used to support the development of a fisheries ecosystem model of Chesapeake Bay and a multispecies virtual population analysis of Atlantic menhaden along the U.S east coast. These data have also been used to both formally and informally quantify the predatory impact of fishes on their prey (e.g., striped bass, weakfish, and bluefish consumption of menhaden; striped bass impact on blue crabs). It is expected that the inclusion of ChesMMAP diet data into multispecies efforts will increase as these relatively new assessment approaches continue to develop. Finally, ChesMMAP abundance and biological data for summer flounder were used to explore yield-per-recruitand egg-per-recruit analyses for this species under a variety of regulatory scenarios for the recreational fishery. The results of this study were requested and reviewed by the ASMFC in their discussions of a possible slot limit management regime for this species.