Science Center for Marine Fisheries Approves $180,000 in New Funding for Fisheries Research



*OCEAN SPRINGS, MS / ACCESSWIRE / July 15, 2021 / *The Science Center for Marine Fisheries (SCEMFIS) has approved 5 new research projects for 2021, awarding over $180,000 in funding for finfish and shellfish projects. Approved by the Center's Industry Advisory Board (IAB), the projects have been identified by the Center's industry partners as addressing critical scientific needs in their fisheries.

These projects include assessing the economic impact of menhaden fisheries; developing processes for shellfish refinement; improving finfish stock assessments; mitigation proposals for surfclam hatcheries; and analyzing the age and length composition of ocean quahog.

The following projects were approved and funded:

· *Developing process and procedures for the refinement of surf clam and ocean quahog shells into calcium carbonate -* Waste produced by the used shells of clams and ocean quahogs are considered environmentally hazardous; finding ways to effectively deal with it is an important sustainability issue. The project, headed by Dr. Alireza Abbaspourrad (Cornell University), will focus on turning shell waste into a value-added product, contributing to blue economy efforts and promote sustainability. ($110,950 in funding)
· *Mid-Atlantic management track stock assessment - *Led by Dr. Steve Cadrin (UMass Dartmouth), this study will update stock assessments for Atlantic mackerel, summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, and golden tilefish. The project will improve both the understanding and effectiveness of finfish stock assessments and stakeholder involvement in finfish management. ($3,520 in funding)
· *What hatchery capacity would be needed to support surfclam fishery mitigation via seeding fishing grounds? - *Currently, the United States has over 1.7 million square acres of federal waters under lease for wind energy. These wind projects will reduce access to surfclam grounds and potentially impact surfclam hatcheries and nurseries. This study, by Dr. Daphne Monroe (Rutgers University), will evaluate mitigation strategies and other ways to support fishing communities as offshore wind energy continues to expand. ($18,480 in funding)
· *Evaluation of ocean quahog aging program for providing age data for the assessment; identification of status, uncertainty, and additional research needs - *Ocean quahogs are the oldest and longest-lived animals under federal management, making them particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Partnering with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Eric Powell (University of Southern Mississippi) and Dr. Roger Mann (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), SCEMFIS has funded a research program to improve understanding of quahog population dynamics, recruitment, and growth rates. The present project will fund a workshop to review findings and evaluate the application of SCEMFIS findings to the NMFS-NEFSC assessment program. ($29,552 in funding)
· *Menhaden economic impact and management uncertainty - *Led by Dr. Thomas J. Murray (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), this project focuses on developing an economic input-output model for the menhaden fishery. The development of this model will allow management decisions to be informed by economic impacts associated with catch and catch area controls. ($34,500 in funding)

SCEMFIS is a member of the National Science Foundation's Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) program, a federal initiative to bring together academic researchers and industry members to fund projects improving our understanding of economically important issues.

SCEMFIS utilizes academic and fisheries resources to address urgent scientific problems limiting sustainable fisheries. SCEMFIS develops methods, analytical and survey tools, datasets, and analytical approaches to improve sustainability of fisheries and reduce uncertainty in biomass estimates. SCEMFIS university partners, University of Southern Mississippi (lead institution), and Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, are the academic sites. Collaborating scientists who provide specific expertise in finfish, shellfish, and marine mammal research, come from a wide range of academic institutions, including Old Dominion University, Rutgers University, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, University of Maryland, and University of Rhode Island.

The need for the diverse services that SCEMFIS can provide to industry continues to grow, which has prompted a steady increase in the number of fishing industry partners. These services include immediate access to science expertise for stock assessment issues, rapid response to research priorities, and representation on stock assessment working groups. Targeted research leads to improvements in data collection, survey design, analytical tools, assessment models, and other needs to reduce uncertainty in-stock status and improve reference point goals.

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*SOURCE: *Science Center for Marine Fisheries
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