Fishery Independent Resource Surveys

Fishery surveys represent a critical means to monitor changes in species abundance over time. The data from these time series underpin stock assessments and form the basis of regulatory actions used to manage fisheries resources. The VIMS Sea Scallop Program, in collaboration with our industry partners, has been conducting industry-based dredge surveys of the sea scallop resource since 2000. While at sea, we simultaneously tow two different dredge configurations. One dredge is an 8-foot wide National Marine Fisheries Service survey dredge that consists of small (2 inch) rings and a mesh liner to provide a sample representative of the age structure of the population. The survey dredge is towed alongside a commercial scallop dredge for 15 minutes at approximately 3.8–4 knots. Scallops and finfish are counted and measured using an electronic measuring board. A subsample of captured scallops is dissected to record biological, health, disease, and market information. These data are used to estimate biomass of the sea scallop stock and support projections of future biomass, allowing fisheries managers to determine a responsible allowable harvest and prevent overfishing of the sea scallop resource. Project reports are produced to disseminate survey results and can be found here.