Cornell Cooperative Extension receives funding for continuation of monkfish genetic populations study

ITHACA, NY – Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) has received funding to collect and analyze monkfish samples to build on CCE’s earlier successful RSA-funded genetic study (2012-13) to determine if monkfish constitute a single or multiple stocks over their coastwide distribution from Newfoundland to North Carolina and to determine if migrational mixing exists between management areas.

This study demonstrated the likelihood of significant genetic differentiation between monkfish from southern sampled area and those to the north.

However, these genetic differences do not correspond to the management units currently employed in managing the monkfish resource.

CCE’s results from 2013 showed
that out of 1,150 samples collected, genetic differentiation did not exist in stocks from New Jersey to Newfoundland.

However, specific genetic results by sample location show that the areas between southern New Jersey and northern Maryland differ significantly from all areas to the north and that areas off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina are genetically significantly different from all areas to the north, including the areas between New Jersey and Maryland.

While this shows that the total monkfish stock may not only consist of two genetically different stocks but perhaps even three genetically different stocks, more data is required.

A small number of samples were successfully collected from waters south of New Jersey.  A larger sample size is needed to confirm the findings from the original project.

In 2016, CCE began work on a new phase of this project by collecting samples from 14 sub-areas both inshore and offshore in southern Georges Bank and the Mid-Atlantic Bight.

Special efforts have been made to collect more samples from areas south of New Jersey and areas deeper than 50 fathoms.

CCE aims to collect 50 samples per sub-area per year during the period of …

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