Friday, April 1, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
DURHAM — Winter flounder populations off the coast of Massachusetts are getting a helping hand from University of New Hampshire researchers.
Winter flounder populations in southern New England waters — also called the Mid-Atlantic Bight — have been steadily declining since the early 2000s, primarily due to overfishing, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. UNH researchers have spent the last decade conducting research on establishing methods to effectively restore and enhance winter flounder populations. One community in the Mid-Atlantic Bight — Martha's Vineyard, Mass. — recently sought advice from UNH researchers, who have developed an enhancement project aimed at improving winter flounder stocks.
"Winter flounder stocks are in dire need of help," according to Elizabeth Fairchild, UNH associate professor of zoology and the project's principal investigator. "Cutting back on fishing alone will not restore these populations in a timely manner. All responsible management tools, including restocking, should be considered."
With funding from the National Sea Grant College Program and the Science Consortium for Ocean Replenishment, volunteers on Martha's Vineyard have literally plunged into the project. Following a recent training session at the UNH Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex in New Castle, volunteers began collecting data in the icy waters of Lagoon Pond and Menemsha Pond on Martha's Vineyard. Two times a month, they take core samples to determine food availability for flounder, monitor water quality and pull seine nets through the shallow waters to determine what species of fish and macroinvertebrates are present. The core samples are sent back to UNH where Fairchild's lab assistants analyze the results.
Project participants will continue collecting data through November in order to determine the most appropriate winter flounder stocking strategies. If these sites show promise as enhancement locations, researchers and volunteers will stock the ponds with as many as 50,000 hatchery-reared winter flounder and monitor their populations to determine the stocking effectiveness.
"This study is a demonstration project, and this community is a testing ground to show how to start and implement winter flounder restocking programs," Fairchild said. "If this project is successful, it will serve as a model applicable to other New England fishing communities seeking to recover winter flounder populations."
On Martha's Vineyard, interest in and support for this project comes from residents of the island, fishermen and bay scallopers as well as from members of the Wampanoag Reservation, says UNH Ph.D. student Shelley Edmundson, who works closely with the volunteers on the island. "The public has been extremely supportive and excited about the project, particularly long-time residents who remember decades ago when the flounder fishery was successful," she says. "It's great to see people working together across the island to try to help the winter flounder and bring back the fishery."
To find out more information about the project, please visit Fairchild's winter flounder enhancement blog at http://winterflounderenhancement.blogspot.com/ or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Curtis Chandler Volunteer Andrew Jacobs prepares to take a core sample of the sediment in Menemsha Pond on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., as part of the UNH Winter Flounder Enhancement Project.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Close up of the head of a Nereis
One of two bay scallops (Argopectin irradians) that we have seen so far
Mysid Shrimp (Praunus flexuosus) that we found a few of
Monday, January 10, 2011
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
The week following the workshop, Nate Rennels and I visited both groups on their home turf to help get the field work started. First working with the Martha's Vineyard crew, we selected 4 sites each in both Menemsha and Lagoon Ponds which will be surveyed for one year. We were very impressed by the eagerness, readiness, and communal spirit of the group. It seems when Warren Doty, the Vineyard project manager, gives the order for all hands on deck, EVERYONE responds. We have no doubts that this group will get things done!
Next Nate and I continued on to East Hampton, NY where we did a repeat. Four sites were selected in both Napeague Harbor and Lake Montauk, and sampling was started. We were pleased by the support from the Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson as well as the encouragement and help from the Town Trustees and assistance from harbormaster Ed Michels and his crew Jim and Dale.
Now the winter flounder stock enhancement project is in the hands of these two groups. As they sample and collect data, we at UNH will process and analyze the information which will be used to determine future stocking strategies.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The end of our day today was cut short when the steering on our boat suddenly died. We were adrift at 4PM with the end of the day approaching. But David (our trusted captain)had this planned perfectly and the wind blew us to shore. And as every prepared captain has things planned perfectly, David had a truck right on this shore even though it was three miles away from our dock and our launching point. How did he do that?
So our November collection for Lagoon Pond is complete. We will complete our first collection for Menemsha next week.