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Gloucester, MA, United States

Fairchild E.A.,University of New Hampshire | Tallack S.,Gulf of Maine Research Institute | Elzey S.P.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Armstrong M.P.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station
Fishery Bulletin | Year: 2015

Full life history information is lacking for Atlantic wolfish (Anarhichas lupus), a species of concern in U.S. waters. Scientific studies indicate that Atlantic wolfish are found in low densities—either solitary or, during spawning season, paired. Groundfish surveys show wolffish abundance in U.S. waters is highest in the Gulf of Maine– Georges Bank region, especially in the southwestern portion at depths of 80–120 m. Contrary to these data, commercial fishermen have reported, and we have validated, that high concentrations of Atlantic wolfish are found in specific shallow locations and at specific times on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) in Massachusetts Bay. From 53 tows conducted during May–June 2011, 395 Atlantic wolffish were captured on the SBNMS. Average daily catch per unit of effort ranged from 0.6 to 37.8 fish h−1 in an area characterized by shallow (depths: 27–46 m), cold (5–7°C) water, and a sand and gravel substrate. At this site, wolffish were mature (mean age: 20 years; range: 7–33 years) and in prespawning condition, both sexes were equally represented, and 99% of the fish were feeding actively. Total mortality (Z) estimated from the age frequency was 0.35. Considering the observed wolffish abundance and their feeding intensity, it appears that this area of the SBNMS is a foraging area used collectively by a large group of wolfish during May–June. © 2015, National Marine Fisheries Service. All rights reserved.

Fairchild E.A.,University of New Hampshire | Siceloff L.,University of New Hampshire | Howell W.H.,University of New Hampshire | Hoffman B.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Armstrong M.P.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station
Fisheries Research | Year: 2013

With the exception of fish in the Georges Bank stock, it is widely believed that adult winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) in US waters move inshore into estuaries and coastal embayments to spawn. However, there have been many indications that this paradigm may not apply to populations in the Gulf of Maine. To understand winter flounder spawning movements and habitat use more clearly, 40 ripe, pre-spawning adult fish were tagged with acoustic transmitters offshore and tracked in 2009 in the western Gulf of Maine. In addition, winter flounder collected by bottom trawl in the offshore study area were tagged with conventional tags, examined to quantify how the reproductive status of the general population changed over time, and released. Peak spawning of winter flounder in Ipswich Bay occurred in late April to early May. Only six fish (16%) were detected entering estuaries between the end of April and August, indicating that the majority of the tagged fish did not spawn in estuaries but remained in deeper, coastal waters. Surveys made within a New Hampshire estuary when one tagged female was present (May-June) revealed that all captured adults had already spawned and were actively feeding. As of May 2012, conventional tagging returns (395 fish tagged, 5% return rate) show both long and short movements. Fish have been recaptured approximately 0.6-57.2. km from their tagging sites in depths of 2-75. m. Days at liberty range from 33 to 453 days, with an average of 171 days. Recaptured fish in the study area in the subsequent year adds to the evidence that winter flounder may display spawning site fidelity. However, relocations of fish well outside of Ipswich Bay suggest mixing of populations of winter flounder is likely. Based on the results of this study, consideration should be given to extending the Essential Fish Habitat for Gulf of Maine winter flounder to include near-shore coastal waters during the spawning season. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Dean M.J.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Hoffman W.S.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Zemeckis D.R.,University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | Armstrong M.P.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station
ICES Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2014

Understanding the influence of spawning behaviour on the fine-scale distribution of Atlantic cod is essential to the design of effective conservation measures. Laboratory studies suggest that spawning activity occurs primarily at night, yet no field studies have evaluated the influence of diel period on the behaviour of individual wild spawning cod. Using an acoustic telemetry positioning system, the fine-scale movements of spawning cod were observed in situ as they returned to the same spawning location over consecutive seasons. The resulting data identify clear gender-based diel patterns in space use and aggregation behaviour among cod on a spawning ground. During the day, females remained aggregated in one small location that varied little within and between years. Males also aggregated during the day, but occupied a much larger adjacent area. At night, individual males sought out separate small territories while females generally remained near their daytime aggregation site, making periodic excursions into the surrounding area. These patterns were surprisingly stable over the 2 years of observation, indicating little interannual variability in spawning behaviour. This study provides an unprecedented examination of the natural spawning behaviour of Atlantic cod, and makes connections between earlier laboratory studies and field observations. © International Council for the Exploration of the Sea 2014. All rights reserved.

Armstrong M.P.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Dean M.J.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Hoffman W.S.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Zemeckis D.R.,University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | And 4 more authors.
Fisheries Research | Year: 2013

Atlantic cod form spawning aggregations in locations and seasons that are persistent from year to year and individual fish have been shown to exhibit spawning site fidelity and home to specific spawning grounds each season. In the Gulf of Maine, cod are known to have historically occupied a mosaic of spawning grounds but many of these spawning components have been extirpated, primarily through overfishing, with a near complete loss of spawning along mid-coast and eastern Maine. The remaining spawning aggregations in the western Gulf of Maine are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation owing to their proximity to shore, the predictability of their timing, the fine-scales upon which they operate, and the high density of fish within each aggregation. Broad scale management actions that are currently being discussed may allow an increased harvest from these spawning aggregations. In this paper we describe the creation of three small-scale area closures that serve to eliminate the exploitation and disturbance of discrete spawning aggregations of Atlantic cod and prevent the potential extirpation of these spawning components. Each closure was unique in the circumstances that surrounded their creation, including differences in the amount of prior protection from commercial and recreational exploitation, the timing and duration of the closure, the size of the closure area, the management body that had authority to enact the closure, the amount of monitoring that has occurred, and the amount of spatial or temporal modifications that have occurred since enactment. We believe the case for spawning closures for Atlantic cod has already been made by several authors and the purpose of this paper is not to present new science, but rather to show the path that was followed to create these spawning closures within the complicated array of fisheries management. © 2012.

Kneebone J.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Hoffman W.S.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Dean M.J.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station | Fox D.A.,Delaware State University | Armstrong M.P.,Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society | Year: 2014

Abstract: The coastal migratory stock of Striped Bass Morone saxatilis has supported fisheries off the Massachusetts (MA) coast for centuries. However, despite this historical importance, limited information is available regarding Striped Bass seasonal movement patterns or migratory pathways within MA coastal waters and beyond. Using passive acoustic telemetry, we evaluated the seasonal residency, coastal migration, and stock composition of 159 adult Striped Bass (65–110 cm TL) by using a network of fixed acoustic receivers deployed from 2008 to 2012 in MA coastal waters and along the U.S. East Coast as part of the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry (ACT) Network. Seasonal monitoring of tagged individuals indicated that adult Striped Bass were present in MA coastal waters north of Cape Cod annually during May–November, moving into and out of the region via the Cape Cod Canal and along the east side of Cape Cod. Of the 159 tagged individuals, 125 (79%) were detected outside of MA coastal waters by the ACT Network and were observed to make seasonal migrations along the coast to overwintering areas of the mid-Atlantic and major spawning areas (Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River, and Hudson River). Numerous tagged individuals exhibited interannual fidelity to summer foraging habitat in MA coastal waters, returning to the region for up to 2 years after tagging. Detection of tagged individuals in known spawning areas revealed that Striped Bass from each major stock were present within MA coastal waters during the summer months, with the Chesapeake Bay stock appearing to be the largest contributor to the population from 2008 to 2010. Collectively, these observations suggest that the seasonal population of adult Striped Bass in MA coastal waters has a diversity of origins, demonstrating the importance of the health of each spawning component to the MA seasonal fishery. © American Fisheries Society 2014.

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