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A Cooperative Partnership for Ecosystem Monitoring in the Western Gulf of Maine

Project summary: This regional cooperative partnership is contributing to coastal ecosystem monitoring in the Gulf of Maine. Eight commercial fishermen were trained to collect zooplankton and larval fish samples at stations located in Ipswich Bay, on Jeffreys Ledge, near GoMOOS Buoy "A" and along the western boundary of the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, representing the upstream entrance to Massachusetts Bay.

The fishermen are responsible for applying a standard methodology to collect samples that can be used to observe seasonal and interannual changes in the plankton over important spawning and fishing grounds in the western Gulf of Maine. The data collected will extend a time series previously collected with the assistance of commercial fishermen showing a dramatic decline between 2003-2005 in the abundance of Calanus finmarchicus, a key component of the region's planktonic food web. The need for monitoring the abundance of Calanus finmarchicus is critical, because it is a key prey for herring, sand lance and mackerel as well as right whales in the western Gulf of Maine. The data showing seasonal and interannual patterns in abundance of zooplankton and ichthyoplankton will be invaluable for the validation of physical-biological models that simulate effects of climate variability on Gulf of Maine ecosystems.

These physical-biological models will evolve into management tools that will provide valuable insight into regional connectivity among spawning areas and impacts of variability in climate on recruitment into commercially harvested stocks. Support from the Northeast Consortium enabled project partners to build research capacity within the commercial fishing fleet and to secure a role for scientist-fishermen partnerships in developing a Gulf of Maine observing system.

Project partners:
Dr. Jeffrey Runge, University of Maine/Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Rebecca Jones, University of New Hampshire
Olivia Free, Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership
Erich Anderson, F/V Kris N Kev
BG Brown, F/V Kathryn Leigh
Peter Kendall, F/V Elizabeth Ann and F/V Kelley Rose
George Littlefield, F/V Lady Regena
Peter Marshall, F/V Venture
Craig Maverikis, F/V Marion Mae
Daniel Murphy, F/V Bantry Bay
Dennis Robillard, F/V Julie Ann II



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