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Fishery Management Branch


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BRANCH MISSION

Conducts research to assess, manage, maintain and enhance invertebrate and fish stocks, and protect endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico, and along the southeast coast of the United States, by:

  • Analysis of fishery dependent landings and independent catch statistics information
  • Evaluation of fishery management plans and regulations, particularly for brown shrimp, white shrimp, pink shrimp, royal red shrimp, rock shrimp, bottom and reef fishes, through inshore and offshore stock assessments
  • Evaluation of effects of species movement on fishing activities
  • Evaluation of fishery effects from interactions with endangered species and marine mammals
  • Development of models to forecast future landings
  • Monitoring of industrial activities, such as offshore petroleum platform removal and fishing techniques, which adversely affects fishery stocks

Uses research to determine, monitor and describe fishery stock population characteristics, such as species distributions, abundance-at-age, recruitment to fishery and mortality parameters. Utilizes single species or multi-species models, such as VPAs (virtual population analysis), with input from both fishery dependent data resources. Develops new models which integrate ecological data, historical relationships and landings statistics data in order to support management of fishery stocks. Determines and predicts effects of fishing on stock sizes of both directed and non-directed catch. The accomplishments of this mission is undertaken through four highly integrated programs.

PROGRAMS

PROJECTS (CURRENT)

PROJECTS (PAST)

STAFFING

  • Principal Investigators: 4
  • University Faculty Positions: 0
  • Research Associates: 8
  • Technical Support and Contractors: 35

 

SHRIMP FISHERY RESEARCH PROGRAM

 


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The long-term objectives of the shrimp fishery research program are to assess and monitor shrimp stocks and to evaluate shrimp fishery impacts on other fisheries and protected species. A port agent data collection system, established in 1960, provides the fishery dependent data needed to param,eterize the Stock Synthesis stock assessment model, virtual population analysis, surplus production models, and overfishing index analysis. The shrimp fishery data collected by the port agents includes pounds, value, size composition, and effort. Activities currently undertaken by the shrimp fishery research scientists include: 1) stock assessment modeling and monitoring of the shrimp species in the Gulf of Mexico and along the east coast of the United States, 2) characterization and trend analysis of the two EEZ closures in the Gulf of Mexico, 3) bioeconomic model development to assess impacts of various closure options, 4) monitoring shrimping effort trends and modeling effects on non-target species, and 5) development of ecosystem based fishery models that will be used to forecast shrimp harvest, evaluate impacts on bycatch, and evaluate management options. These five research activities are accomplished through the following five projects.

PROJECT: Shrimp Management


DESCRIPTION: The Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery landed 111.4 million pounds of shrimp tails, valued at $331.1 million, in 2010. It is imperative that this major fishery is managed properly, so that all users can benefit from this resource. Annual stock assessments are required to minimize risk of growth and recruitment overfishing. The evolution of both federal closures in the shrimp fishery is YPR based, reducing the probability of growth overfishing. In addition, methods for controlling mortality must be examined. Stock assessment models must be expanded to include economic aspects. This project addresses NMFS Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries) and NMFS Goal 3 (Advance fishery forecasts and ecosystem models).
 

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this project are to determine impacts of the present federal management measures on the shrimp fishery, and evaluate alternate management regimes to increase economic benefits to the shrimp fishery.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS: A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, and A2) Advance fishery predictions.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Closure analysis reports and manuscripts (Texas and Tortugas)
  - Alternative closure bioeconomic model development and reports and manuscript
  - Stock assessment reports and manuscripts
  - Shrimp stock trend analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Recruitment overfishing monitoring reports
  - Shrimp stock trend analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Growth overfishing analysis reports
  - Shrimp effort estimation and analysis report and manuscripts
  - YPR analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Surplus production model development reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

PROJECT: Shrimp Stock Assessment


DESCRIPTION: Several of the most important fishery species in the United States are in the Southeast Region. Among the more productive species of commercial fisheries are brown, white and pink shrimp. Each species requires an annual assessment of the condition of the stock, the fishery, and sectors of the economy that are impacted by changes in either. The assessments are also needed so that the Councils can determine whether or not a stock is overfished. These assessments must be based upon the best scientific information available, with regard of all dimensions of the factors that are germane to the specific fishery. This project addresses NMFS Goal 1 (Rebuild overfished marine fisheries), NMFS Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries), and NMFS Goal 3 (Advance fishery forecasts and ecosystem models).
 

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this project are to monitor the trends in the shrimp fishery, conduct stock assessment analyses, determine if stocks are in a state of recruitment overfishing, evaluate management options to increase economic benefits to the shrimp fishery and develop better predictive stock assessment models.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS:A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, A2) Advance fishery predictions, and A3) Manage for economic growth and promote a healthy fishing industry.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Closure analysis reports and manuscripts (Texas and Tortugas)
  - Alternative closure bioeconomic model development and reports and manuscript
  - Stock assessment reports and manuscripts
  - Shrimp stock trend analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Recruitment overfishing monitoring reports
  - Shrimp stock trend analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Growth overfishing analysis reports
  - Shrimp effort estimation and analysis report and manuscripts
  - YPR analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Surplus production model development reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

PROJECT: Information Transfer for Shrimp Fisheries


DESCRIPTION: Information needed for fisheries management of national and international migratory stocks must be effectively transmitted to constituents at all levels in order to fulfill NMFS Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries) and NMFS Goal 7 (Improve the effectiveness of international fisheries relationships).
 

OBJECTIVE: Regular data exchanges and participation in meetings, workshops, symposia, publications, and cooperative research, assure that the best scientific knowledge available concerning living marine resources and habitat conservation is conveyed to fishery managers and decision makers. This effort will reduce uncertainties now inherent in FMPs.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS:A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, and A7) Promote global stewardship by fulfilling UNCED commitments.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Summary catch statistics reports and data preparation
  - Detailed catch statistics reports and data preparation
  - Summary effort statistics reports and data preparation
  - Detailed effort statistics reports and data preparation
CUSTOMERS: Mexico Fishery Laboratories, Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

PROJECT: Forecasting Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Harvests


DESCRIPTION: Shrimp fishery forecasts are used by resource managers and commercial and recreational fishermen. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has requested advance notice for harvests of brown shrimp off Texas and Louisiana and for pink shrimp off Florida. This research primarily addresses NMFS Goal 3 (Advance fishery forecasts and ecosystem models) with secondary application to NMFS Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries) and NMFS Goal 1 (Rebuild overfished marine fisheries).
 

OBJECTIVE: This project produces annual forecasts for the Texas and Louisiana brown shrimp harvests (in June) and for the Tortugas pink shrimp harvest (in January). These forecasts allow management agencies to adjust measures insuring productivity.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS:A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, A2) Advance fishery predictions, and A3) Manage for economic growth and promote a healthy fishing industry.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Pink shrimp forecast report for Tortugas fishery
  - Brown shrimp forecast report for Texas fishery
  - Brown shrimp forecast report for Louisiana fishery
  - Brown shrimp forecast model upgrading reports and manuscripts
  - Pink shrimp forecast model upgrading report and manuscripts
  - White shrimp forecast model development reports
  - Brown shrimp forecast model upgrading reports and manuscripts
  - Brown shrimp forecast model upgrading reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters Department , and other NMFS SE laboratories.

PROJECT: Revision of a Trophic Model for Assessment of Ecological Interactions Among Shrimp and Bottomfish Assemblages


DESCRIPTION: The southeastern shrimp trawl fishery impacts commercial and recreational fishes. Several of these fisheries have been declared overfished, and incidental catch must be quantified and reduced. This project addressed Goal 1 (Rebuild overfished marine fisheries) and Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries). Results of model revision provided updated analyses regarding the impacts of the Gulf shrimp fishery on stock dynamics of bycatch species.
 

OBJECTIVE: Revise and update a trophic ecosystem model for assessment of impacts of shrimp trawl bycatch mortalities on trophic structure, nutrient cycling and fishery yields of Gulf of Mexico shrimp and finfish stocks.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS:A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, A3) Manage for economic growth and promote a healthy fishing industry, and A4) Reduce bycatch.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Ecological bycatch model reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

 

FISHERY OBSERVER PROGRAMS

 


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The long-term objectives of the fishery observer programs are to provide onboard monitoring of selected fisheries and to directly observe impacts of one fishery on other fisheries and protected species. The fishery observer program has been in existence since about 1987 and was originally developed to provide an economic evaluation of turtle reduction devices (TED) in shrimp trawls. Presently, shrimp trawl and reef fish trap and longline vessels are the selected objectives of onboard observer monitoring. However, the observers are available and have been used to monitor fisheries and events selected by either the Southeast Science Director or the Southeast Regional Director. These activities may include fish kill events, special surveys and regulation monitoring. Specific examples include: 1) Florida east coast gill net fishery, summer flounder fishery in North Carolina, Gulf menhaden fishery, and Texas seismic surveys. Activities currently undertaken by the fishery observer programs scientists include: 1) shrimp trawl bycatch characterization research, 2) shrimp trawl bycatch reduction device evaluation, 3) analysis for estimation of fishing mortality rates for bycatch species, and 4) reef fish trap and longline characterization research. These four research activities are accomplished through the following two projects.

PROJECT: Shrimp Bycatch Reduction Device Evaluation Research


DESCRIPTION: The southeastern shrimp trawl fishery impacts commercial and recreational fishes. Several of these fisheries have been declared overfished, and incidental catch of these species must be reduced. This project addresses NMFS Goal 1 (Rebuild overfished marine fisheries) and NMFS Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries).
 

OBJECTIVE: This project evaluates the operational performances of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) during commercial shrimping operations. Catch rates of finfish and shrimp in nets equipped with BRDs and turtle excluder devices (TEDs) are compared to nets equipped with TEDs only. This project provides information for FMPs and marine recreational fishery programs.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS:A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, and A4) Reduce bycatch.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Bycatch reduction device (BRD) description reports and manuscripts
  - BRD effectiveness reports and manuscripts
  - Spatial and temporal bycatch characterization reports and manuscripts
  - Bycatch species stock assessment update reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

PROJECT: PROJECT: Reef Fish Bycatch Research


DESCRIPTION: The southeastern reef fish trap, bottom longline, hand and power line (bandit-rigged) fisheries impact commercial and recreational fishes. Several of these stocks have been declared overfished, and incidental catch must be quantified and reduced. This project addresses NMFS Goal 1 (Rebuild overfished marine fisheries) and NMFS Goal 2 (Maintain currently productive fisheries).
 

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research is to characterize the reef fish fisheries operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, catch rates of retained and discarded reef fish species are documented by area, season and gear type. Mortality rates of discarded individuals relative to depth, size, and method of capture are quantified. This project provides information for FMPs and marine recreational fishery programs.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS: A1) Assess the status of fishery resources, and A4) Reduce bycatch.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Spatial and temporal bycatch characterization reports and manuscripts
  - Bycatch species stock assessment update reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

Commercial Shrimp and Reef Fish Observer Training Manual


 

OIL PLATFORM ECOLOGY PROGRAM

 


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TThe long-term objective of the oil platform ecology program is to monitor explosive removal of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and to evaluate impacts of removals on protected species. Oil platforms are routinely removed at the end of their useful life span. Explosives are used to sever the platform legs and well conductors. The platform is then either transported to shore for scrapping or refurbishing, or transferred to an artificial reef program. Many of the resident finfish species are killed during the removal process, and any sea turtles or marine mammals in the area may also be affected by the explosive charges. Since 1987, observers performing surface and aerial surveys have been placed on site to monitor the removal process and to delay explosives use if protected species of sea turtles or marine mammals are in the area. Once the platform is removed the observers conduct post-detonation monitoring to assess impacts on sea turtles and marine mammals.

PROJECT: Sea Turtle And Marine Mammal Associations With Petroleum Platforms


DESCRIPTION: Threatened and endangered sea turtles and protected marine mammals have been sighted near offshore petroleum platforms. Non-producing or unsafe platforms are required by law to be removed, and current technology employs explosives in the majority of removals. The MMPA and ESA require NMFS to monitor mortalities resulting from these human activities. This project addresses NMFS Goal 4 (Integrate conservation of protected species and fishery management).
 

OBJECTIVE: The occurrence and types of sea turtles and marine mammals at petroleum platforms will be documented, primarily in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Detonation of explosives will be delayed until protected species have cleared the immediate area. These activities will provide information on protected species habitats and causes of mortality needed for recovery plans.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS:B1) Reduce the impact of human activity on protected species, and A4) Reduce bycatch
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Platform removal ecological impact reports and manuscripts
CUSTOMERS: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, Oil Industry Companies, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.

 

SEA TURTLE ECOLOGY PROGRAM

 


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The long-term objectives of the sea turtle ecology program are to investigate the migratory movements and habitat needs of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and to establish any interactions between human activities and sea turtles. Since development of this program in 1988, information has been gathered on about one hundred fifty sea turtles through satellite and radio monitoring. Activities currently undertaken by the sea turtle ecology scientists include: 1) satellite tracking to monitor migratory movements of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, 2) radio and sonic tracking to establish daily movement and ascertain habitat preference, 3) observation and evaluation of harmful interactions with humans such as channel dredging and trawl fishing. These three research activities are accomplished through the following project.

PROJECT: Behavior and Ecology of Sea Turtles


DESCRIPTION: Activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, offshore mineral development, water projects and coastal development may jeopardize protected species habitats. Development of regulations for these industries requires precise information on sea turtle populations, especially the endangered Kemp's ridley. Research is needed on the distribution, abundance and habitat use of sea turtles in both inshore and offshore waters. This project addressed NMFS Goal 4 (Integrate conservation of protected species and fisheries management) and NMFS Goal 6 (Improve fishery habitat protection).
 

OBJECTIVE: Through satellite tracking, monitor long-term distributions (on the order of months) of tagged sea turtles released in offshore waters, particularly with reference to association with oil platforms and oceanographic fronts or other features, depth distributions, and movement speed and direction. Through radio and sonic telemetry, monitor short-term movements (daily to weekly time frames) of tagged sea turtles in bays and estuaries or shallow nearshore waters in order to identify coastal habitats, submergence times, and swimming speeds.
 

NOAA STRATEGIC PLAN ELEMENTS: B1) Reduce the impact of human activity on protected species and B2) Assess the status of protected species information.
 

PRODUCTS:
  - Temporal and spatial tracking characterization analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Fishing and industry impacts analysis reports and manuscripts
  - Turtle habitat assessment reports and manuscripts
  - Development of GIS data set with turtle tracking and ecosystem parameters
CUSTOMERS: Army Corps of Engineers, Universities, Fishery Management Councils, State Marine Fishery Commissions, State Resource Departments, Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Agencies, Fishery Associations and Foundations, NMFS SE Regional Office, NMFS SE Fishery Science Center, NMFS Headquarters, and other NMFS SE laboratories.