Towards an Improved System for Sampling New England Ground Fish Using Video Technology

  • Kevin D. E. Stokesbury | Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford, MA
  • Steven X. Cadrin, Nick Calabrese, Emily Keiley, Travis M. Lowery, and Brian J. Rothschild | Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford, MA
  • Gregory R. DeCelles | Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, New Bedford, MA

There is considerable controversy regarding abundance estimates of New England groundfish. Federal surveys sample randomly but are restricted to short tow lengths and minimal area covered at high daily expense. Working collaboratively with fishermen, we developed a video system that can be deployed in a commercial trawl net to improve the information on the abundance and distribution of groundfish stocks (focusing on Atlantic Cod Gadus morhua and Yellowtail Flounder Limanda ferruginea) by increasing the amount of sea floor sampled per sea day without killing more fish. Rather than being hauled to the surface for counting, fish are counted as they pass through the net. This results in continuous transect data that can be processed into sampling units, randomized, and used to estimate abundance. High-intensity sampling of important habitats can complement existing multispecies random and stratified random survey designs to reduce uncertainty, presenting a clearer picture of the resource.

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