Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NOAA Sea Surveys Planned to Obtain Crucial Management Data

NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center has another busy summer season of surveys planned to gather data needed by fisheries managers to determine sustainable fishery harvest levels.

During this year’s annual Eastern Bering Sea continental shelf survey and biennial Gulf of Alaska continental shelf survey, federal fisheries scientists will sort, weigh and count species collected by each trawl, with an emphasis on biological data for target species. They will also collect specimens and data on various species, as requested by cooperating scientists, agencies and institutions, including the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

NOAA has been conducting annual bottom trawl surveys in the Eastern Bering Sea for the past 40 years. The primary biological information collected includes relative abundance and size and age data for walleye pollock, Pacific cod, yellowfin sole, northern rock sole, red king crab and snow and tanner crab. Scientists will also collect physical data, including surface and bottom temperatures.

“The continental shelf area of the Eastern Bering Sea is one of the most productive fishing areas in the world in terms of both species abundance and commercial value,” noted Bob Lauth, lead scientist for the Eastern Bering Sea survey.

NOAA has chartered the F/V Alaska Knight and F/V Vesteraalen to survey the Bering Sea shelf between the depths of 20 meters and 200 meters from Bristol Bay northward to latitude 62 degrees North, from June through August.

In the Gulf of Alaska, the surveys will begin near the Islands of Four Mountains, some 180 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor, and continue eastward to the US-Canada border near Dixon Entrance. The survey will conclude in Ketchikan in early August. The three chartered vessels, the F/V Sea Storm, F/V Alaska Provider, and R/V Cape Flattery, will be marked “US Research.”

All three vessels will conduct standard 15-minute bottom trawl hauls at 800 pre-assigned stations using specially-designed nets with small meshes to capture fish and invertebrates.

Wayne Palsson, lead scientist for the Gulf of Alaska survey, noted that elevated ocean temperatures have been seen this year along the entire West Coast. He said scientists would be looking for species not typically seen that may have moved farther north due to the warmer waters.

The Gulf bottom trawl survey began in 1984 and has been conducted in odd-numbered years since 1999. This will be the 14th survey of the region.

More information and, later, survey results, will be found online at

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