The Eastern Gulf of Maine Sentinel Jigging/Longline Survey/Fishery in 2013

The Eastern Gulf of Maine (EGOM), although not closed for groundfish, has been
perceived to have low density of groundfish stocks. There is virtually no fishing effort for
groundfish species, although lobstermen have reported catching groundfish as bycatch in their traps and Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) sea sampling program has confirmed groundfish catch in lobster traps. Fisheries-independent survey programs such as bottom trawl surveys by the Maine DMR and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have sampling stations within the EGOM, however, their spatial and temporal coverage is limited. Because trawl gears cannot be used in areas with complex bottom, their catchability for some species (e.g., cusk and wolfish) tends to be very low. The overriding objectives for the sentinel survey/fishery are to provide critical information for monitoring and assessing groundfish stocks and their ecosystem in the study area, and to involve the fishing industry directly in the scientific assessment process. We have developed the EGOM sentinel survey/fishery to satisfy (1) the wish of fishermen participants to contribute their knowledge and experience in determining groundfish abundance and distribution; (2) statistical rigor required for stock assessments; (3) the opportunity to compare different sampling gears and survey designs; and (4) the opportunity to
monitor potential recovery of groundfish populations on historical groundfish fishing grounds. We conducted a successful stratified random survey with the stations being sampled with longlining and jigging in 2012.

This proposal requests for the grant support for conducting the groundfish sentinel survey
in eastern GOM in 2013. The 2013 survey design is similar to the 2012 survey design, and the total number of sampling days is the same as that in 2012. However, we plan to increase the jigging sampling effort and conduct jigging sampling in parallel with longline sampling for each longline sampling station. Thus, total fishing effort in 2013 will be 60 days: 30 random longline, 14 fishermen’s choice longline and 16 jigging. Three jigging stations can be covered in one day of effort so a total of 48 jigging stations will be sampled. The breakdown of station allocation per strata is shown in Table 1. Additionally, each station sampled by longline gear will also be sampled by jigging gear while the longline gear is soaking in order to compare results of different gear types at the stations (these are not included in the jigging numbers in Table 1).

This essentially adds 30 more stations covered by jigging, making the total number of stations sampled by jigging to 78 (i.e., 48 jigging stations only and 30 stations of both longline and jigging).