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Pilot Project to Test the Use of Side-scan Sonar to Identify Seafloor Features Associated with Pre-spawning and Spawning Cod Aggregations


Cobble seafloor habitat

Project summary: With funding by the Northeast Consortium, this project groundtruthed existing USGS charts in areas associated with pre-spawning and spawning cod by deploying acoustic equipment from the F/V Venture to describe the benthic habitat. This study focused on determining if habitat characteristics were correlated to the site fidelity of cod. Using USGS multibeam datasets from the area and empirical information offered by commercial fishermen, sites with very similar habitats as measured by aspect, depth, and backscatter value but with contrasting cod site fidelity were identified. At these sites, correlations between cod presence and absence and seafloor characteristics (grain size, organic carbon content, and macrofauna) were analyzed using grab samples and still photos collected in June, 2006 aboard the F/V Venture. Cod were found at sites with significantly different habitats across the Cod Conservation Zone in Massachusetts Bay, but no seafloor features measured could be correlated to the presence or absence of cod.

 


Dr. Kathryn Ford, DMF, and Captain Peter Marshall examine seafloor sample.

Project partners:
Dr. Kathryn Ford, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Olivia Free, Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership
Captain Peter Marshall, F/V Venture
Captain Sam Novello, F/V Capt. Novello

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