Research update – EFSC surveys in the Gulf of Maine, scallop RSA grant apps due Nov 6

NEW BEDFORD, MA – The NOAA research vessel Gloria Michelle was in New Bedford Harbor last month on a tour of visits to local ports to help further the public’s understanding of fisheries research.

The 72’ vessel has been performing inshore trawl surveys since 1984, providing scientists a consistent platform for time series on groundfish and Northern shrimp, and a convenient and cost-efficient charter for special research projects in the Northeast.

The Gloria Michelle is best known in these parts for its role in the 45-year time series of the Massachusetts Div. of Marine Fisheries’ (MA DMF) inshore spring and fall groundfish bottom trawl surveys.

Matt Camisa, who heads the MA DMF trawl survey, said the inshore surveys are the state counterpart to the federal surveys by the Henry B. Bigelow, the NOAA Fisheries federal waters research vessel.

“The Gloria Michelle has been performing the surveys for 37 years,” Camisa said. “We schedule them to occur about the same time as the Bigelow surveys.”

Asked if there was a Plan B in case the boat broke down, Camisa seemed stunned at the thought.  The Gloria Michelle is that reliable.  And the parts are much easier to get, as Camisa pointed out.

“It’s had emergency repairs.  But replacement parts are stock,” Camisa said.

The Gloria Michelle is powered by Caterpillar engines and a single, fixed-pitch propeller, unlike the Bigelow’s unique, low acoustic signature, electric propulsion motors.

Gloria Michelle has been performing the Northern shrimp trawl in the western Gulf of Maine for almost as long as it has groundfish surveys – about 33 years.

“It’s a very good survey at catching shrimp consistently,” said Anne Richards, researcher at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).

Richards said that having a platform stay the same for decades gives researchers confidence in the results, noting that a moratorium has been in place on Northern shrimp since 2014 due to poor stock condition.

The shrimp survey is also useful as it is the only summer survey in the Northeast, picking up monkfish, redfish, silver hake, and other species while assessing the still depleted shrimp stock, Richards said.

Most recently, the vessel was chartered for a quick two-day GOM cruise to collect sea pens to learn more about the deep sea coral’s relationship to Acadian redfish larvae. Sea pens, with polyps that look like quills of a feather, are abundant in the muddy bottoms and consistently…

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