Atlantic halibut are one of the largest fish in our region, and support a Marine Stewardship Council certified, multi-million dollar fishery in Canadian waters. Little is known about how these fish move and grow on the American side of the border. Beginning in 2017, the Fishermen’s Alliance partnered with regional scientists to undertake a project designed to better inform the management of this species. Fishermen catch halibut during their normal fishing trips and collect tissue and bone samples from the fish. After returning to shore, the samples are catalogued and preserved here at the Alliance before being sent to labs run by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada for analysis. Together with these partners and The Nature Conservancy, we look forward to improving our collective understanding of this species as the project continues in 2018.
The Fishermen's Alliance is part of a region-wide, collaborative effort to provide fine-scale bottom temperature data to the oceanographers and climatologists who develop marine forecast models. By putting temperature probes on their fishing gear, fishermen get a near-real time view of bottom temperature on a special screen in their wheelhouse and provide information that scientists can use to ground truth forecast models. This project is a collaboration with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and involves other regional groups that work with commercial fishermen including the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Center for Coastal Studies, and the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation. You can read more about the project in our e-mag story, here.
Butter clams are juvenile surf clams, measuring just 1.5-2” in length and in 2017 it became legal to farm them in Massachusetts. But what is the most cost effective way to grow them on Cape Cod? We partnered with ARC Hatchery and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension to secure a Saltonstall Kennedy grant to research ideal growing conditions and gear. The project will run until December 2018 but we’ve already learned that they need containment to keep them from swimming away, extremes changes in temperature are bad, and they like being in or on the bottom. Growth measurements throughout the next several months will help determine if they are economically viable to grow.
We are also collaborating with Woods Hole Sea Grant to complete a market assessment and promotional plan for butter clams, blood arks, and shucked oysters.