2003 FRD News, Meetings, and Visitors
Information is chronological with the most recent, first. Choose a date, search for a context string, or browse.
December 16, 2003
- Kevin Hill reports that the Fourth Trinational Sardine Forum, co-chaired with Tim Baumgartner (CICESE, Ensenada, Mexico), was a success. The forum was held December 4-5 at the Southern California Commercial Fishing Association headquarters in San Pedro, California. Approximately 60 colleagues representing government agencies, academia, and the fishing industry of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico participated in the forum. The objectives of the meeting were to provide a venue for discussion of issues concerning the trinational fishery for sardine and to continue interagency coordination in collecting baseline data needed for coast-wide resource assessment.
The first day of the meeting included presentations on the status of the regional sardine fisheries and an update by agency scientists on the latest research efforts. During this session, Ray Conser presented the latest sardine stock assessment results and Bev Macewicz discussed preliminary results from last summer's sardine cruise off the Pacific Northwest. In the afternoon, a panel of six industry representatives discussed the status of their fisheries and voiced their views on the conservation of the sardine population. One outcome of the industry discussion was the formation of an ad-hoc committee to plan for the long-term viability of the forum. In the coming months, this group will draft proposals for funding the forum meetings as well as larger initiatives to enhance coast-wide research efforts.
The second day of the meeting began with a plenary session titled "Defining Stock Structure", chaired by Russ Vetter. Paul Smith presented his latest research and theories on the structure of sardine subpopulations off the west coast, and Nancy Lo gave presentations on regional biomass estimates and migration modeling. The forum then broke into four working groups to coordinate interagency efforts in adult sampling, regional biomass, stock structure, and forum organization. This forum provided a unique opportunity for all parties interested in Pacific sardine to exchange ideas and promote the collaboration of research activities in the near future.
December 9, 2003
- Sue Smith and Bill Watson attended a Least Tern/Fisheries Meeting in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command building in San Diego on December 4. The meeting was arranged by Tim Burr (U.S. Navy) to discuss recent California least tern breeding collapses at certain nesting colonies, and how these might have been influenced by changes in oceanographic and forage fish availability. The meeting was attended by various least tern biologists with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, California State University-Fullerton, California State Parks Service, and NMFS' SWR (Bob Hoffman). The Navy and others concerned about rebuilding endangered least tern populations plan to look at various fisheries data sets, including the CalCOFI data base, NMFS SWR fish sampling results in San Diego and Mission bays, and NOAA Coastwatch SeaWIFS data, to try and determine what factors might be associated with failures in annual tern breeding success.
- John Butler and David Demer returned Thursday from a highly successful cruise on the M/V Outer Limits. Demer mapped fish schools and habitat on local banks using split-beam and multi-beam sonar. Butler used the SWFSC ROV to identify rockfish species in these schools.
- Al Coan attended the 6th Foro Nacional sobre el Atun in Mazatlan, Mexico on December 3-5, 2003. He presented a talk on the central-western Pacific purse seine fishery detailing data for 1988 to 2002. There were 24 talks given and most were on ETP fisheries for tuna (Al is circulating the agenda and paper summaries). All talks except Coan's and Shelton Harley's of the Tuna Commission were in Spanish. Coan reports that had he known earlier, it would have been nice to deliver his talk in Spanish. Something to keep in mind for whomever attends next year.
- Richard Charter attended a workshop in Silver Spring on the Fisheries Scientific Computer System for processing trawl catches. Currently four centers each use a different version of the system. The purpose of the workshop was to develop requirements for a new version that all centers could use. They are also considering developing a module to be used on longline cruises.
- Dr. Su Wei-Cheng, Director of Taiwan Fishereis Reseach Institute, visited the Fishereis Resources Division on December 2 and 3 and Scripps Research Institute and IATTC in the afternoon of December 3rd. Dr. Su met with key scientists involved with CalCOFI operations on Dec 2nd, visited the larval laboratory and met with HMS group on December 3 and exchanged ideas of fishery management strategies. Dr. Su emphasized the importance of close contact between agencies in the future, including visitation of scientists.
- Last week Suzy Kohin attended an electronic tagging meeting hosted by Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark Research. Tag manufacturers and users from the U.S., Central America, South Africa and Australia gathered to discuss advancements in tag development and data analysis. Suzy has been working with Dave Holts in the analysis of data from tags they deployed during the 2002 and 2003 shark survey, and with John Childers and Paul Crone on albacore archival tagging.
November 25, 2003
- Al Coan, John Childers and Ken Wallace attended the National Fisheries Information Systems (FIS) meeting in Silver Springs, Maryland on November 17-21, 2003. The meeting was chaired by Tina Chang of the Office of Science and Technology. Al Coan presented the SWFSC, SWR, PIFSC and PIR Highly Migratory Species Data Coordination effort as the only example of between region cooperation in coordinating data management. He also presented a briefing on the status of FIS funded projects that consisted of upgrading communication links between the SWR and the SWFSC so that SWR databases could be housed and supported at the Center and still efficiently used at the Region, upgrading of SWFSC database and application servers, development of metadata for all HMS data sets, and migration of legacy data sets to Oracle.
The meeting also focused on establishing Professional Specialty Groups (PSG) in four areas; electronic reporting (Al Coan attended), logbook-landings reconciliation (John Childers attended), permits data (Pat Donley SWR attended), and integrated systems designs - meta data migration and integration (Ken Wallace attended). Goals and work plans were developed for each PSG. The underlying goal for each PSG was to provide technical expertise in the various areas and if possible recommend a solution that can be supported by FIS.
- Sue Smith continued to work on review of a paper for Environmental Biology of Fishes, and the SWR's bycatch report with the regional bycatch team. She is also preparing a response to a request from NMFS headquarters on information relating to exempted fishing, scientific research permits and related programs, including review of NMFS' proposed rule concerning regulations concerning scientific research activities regulated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS is proposing to expand the definition of scientific research activity to include some types of fishing gear-based research, previously considered to be 'gear testing' (and thus excluded from the definition of scientific research activity). The action is intended to provide clearer guidance to the public about obtaining the appropriate permits and to facilitate the timely conduct of research to address bycatch and habitat issues in fisheries.
- Dave Holts returned from Ixtapa, Guatemala where he tagged 10 sailfish and one blue marlin with satellite archival tags as part of the Adopt-A-Billfish program. This constituent based Adopt-A-Billfish program is supported and financed privately in collaboration with the Presidential Challenge Billfish Tournament. The goals are to determine survival of released sailfish during tournament conditions and to determine the scope of international movement in the coastal waters of Central America. Tagging of sailfish has now been conducted in Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Funds and equipment have also been donated for tagging 10 additional sailfish off Zihuatenejo/Ixtapa, Mexico in January 2004.
- Nancy Lo is preparing for two talks at the upcoming Trinational Sardine Forum meeting held Dec 4 -5 in San Pedro, CA: The regional estimates of biomass of Pacific sardine off the west coast American continent: Mexico, U.S. and Canada. The other talk is on preliminary results of temperature dependent migration of Pacific sardine. Lo is also preparing for a three-day short course on the Daily Egg Production Method to be given at the University of Concepcion, Chile from Jan 4-6, 2004 and a talk at the SPACC meeting the following week.
- Dr. Su Wei-Chung, the Director of the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute will visit the lab from Dec 2-3. Anyone who wishes to meet with him may contact Michelle DeLaFuente to make an appointment.
November 18, 2003
- Christian Reiss participated in a workshop on the development of Environmentally Explicit Stock Assessments held in Monterey between from October 28 to 31. The following week he presented an invited symposium talk entitled "Indices of environmental influence on the California market squid fishery" at the CalCOFI meeting in Monterey. The talk was well received, and he was invited by Dave Checkely to present the talk at SIO, and by Laura Rodgers- Bennett to present the talk at Bodega Bay Labs in the spring. He has just completed a manuscript for the CalCOFI Reports for that talk entitled "Environmental effects on population dynamics of Loligo opalescens in the southern California Bight" which provides the first ever age based temperature dependent model for squid growth. The manuscript is in internal review. Additionally, a paper based on previous work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences entitled " Horizontal and vertical distribution patterns, retention rates and population dynamics of zooplankton on Western Bank, Scotian Shelf".
- Russ Vetter gave the Departmental Seminar at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. The seminar was on the evolution and conservation biology of rockfishes. While there he met with coauthor Don Gunderson on a book chapter on metapopulation dynamics in temperate rocky reef fishes and with Lorenz Hauser on the use of fish scales to obtain "ancient" DNA from herring and sardine.
The following week, Nov 5-7 he gave a presentation at the annual CalCOFI Meeting at Asilomar. The presentation was on the calculation of mean larval dispersal distances and the placement of marine reserves.
This past week Vetter attended the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation meeting "Biodiversity Using the Past to Inform the Future". Alec MacCall and Paul Smith gave excellent presentations on the historical population dynamics of sardine. He also reports that the paper "Stepping stone larval dispersal in grass rockfish, Sebastes rastrelliger" has been accepted to Marine Biology.
- John Butler and David Demer returned from a successful cruise on the M/V Outer Limits November 3-6. Multi-beam sonar was used to observe schools of rockfish over a 24hr period on a local bank. The SWFSC ROV was used to identify species composition within the schools. These results are being used to develop non-lethal survey methodology for over-fished groundfish in Southern California. Another cruise is planned for Nov 14 to 18.
- Sue Smith reviewed a paper for Environmental Biology of Fishes and worked on a manuscript on leopard shark mating. She also participated in a teleconference with the regional Bycatch Assessment Team, which is preparing a report on implementation of the national goals to reduce bycatch in the Southwest Region. A draft report was sent out for Headquarters review in September, and the team is now addressing comments on that draft from NMFS Headquarters, including F/PR.
November 3, 2003
- Norm Bartoo is attending a PFMC meeting in San Diego from November 4-5. Many staff are attending the annual CalCOFI Conference being held at Asilomar in Pacific Grove this week.
- Ken Wallace worked with Bill Jacobson of the SWR on November 3, 2003, to install the SWR cannery receipts data base on the SWFSC Oracle database server, moladae. The database needed to be moved to the SWFSC when the UNIX machine housing the application at the SWR crashed. Ken wrote scripts to create the database and tables. Bill provided scripts to load the data. The data bases were loaded with archived data from 25 years and tests summarizing the data confirmed an accurate load of the database. Completion of this task will enable the SWR to continue to archive cannery receipts data. This coordinated effort is an example of the fruits of our HMS data coordination and S&T's Fishery Information Systems support (provided upgrades to the computer links between the SWR and SWFSC to enable more efficient links to databases at the SWFSC).
- Amy Hays and Dimitry Abramenkoff returned today after completing the fall CalCOFI cruise on the New Horizon.
October 7, 2003
- Rand Rasmussen and Dave Holts returned from the first leg of the thresher shark survey, Sept. 24 - Oct. 3, 2003. The survey ranged from Santa Barbara to Long Beach and out to the Channel Islands. In all 37 longline sets were conducted totaling 1800 hooks set. Catches included common thresher shark, blue shark, mako shark and pelagic rays. This is the first of a 3-year survey to index local abundance of pre-recruit common thresher shark in the Southern California Bight. Leg 2 of this survey will continue in the spring of 2004.
- Sue Smith and Dave Holts report that initial thresher shark sampling trips have been successfully completed, and contracts started on schedule in September. Thresher shark catches were very small for longline trips, which is thought to be due at least partly to the continuing presence of red tide conditions within the Southern California Bight. Operations went relatively smoothly, although some adjustments will be made to the sampling such as an increase in hook sizes and perhaps increasing the number of hooks set per day. Gillnet sampling yielded more thresher sharks over six nights of sampling between Gaviota and Newport Beach. The highest catch (26 thresher sharks) was taken off Pitas Point near Ventura, where on October 2-3, the red tide water had cleared. Two of the threshers were lively enough to tag and release. Samples (genetic and stomach) were taken from the remainder, which were landed for market. One charter longline vessel may continue fall sampling, while the other longline and net vessels will probably resume sampling next spring around the time neonate pups start appearing again in nearshore waters.
- Dale Squires (co-chair), Sam Herrick, Sue Smith, Suzie Kohin, and Norm Bartoo from the Division attended an HMS Management team meeting October 1-2 at Hubbs Sea World, San Diego. Much of the meeting was spent discussing initial considerations for a possible limited entry scheme for the California-based high seas longline fishery. Also, Svein Fougner (SWR) reported on the NMFS time line for approval and implementation of the HMS Plan and emergency action to protect sea turtles from longline operations east of 150 deg W longitude, which are tentatively expected to be in place around the end of February 2004.
- Over the past week Sue Smith has been preparing background material for NMFS Headquarters on seven species of triakid sharks, which have been proposed for possible consideration for Appendix II of CITES. One local species, the leopard shark, is currently managed by the state under a 91 cm minimum size limit (among other restrictions) to protect pre-adults and prevent harvest of neonates for the aquarium trade. But this trade is apparently still active.
- Nancy Lo and Beverly Macewicz are finalizing a users' manual for processing adult samples and estimating spawning biomass of epipelagic fish using the daily egg production method. This manual, written by Henry Chen under a contract, is based on visual BASIC code using ACCESS and is an updated version of the dbase programs. This manual is a much more user-friendly package than previous versions.
- Russ Vetter has been invited to give the departmental seminar at the University of Washington, School of Fisheries on October 30. While there he will work with Don Gunderson on a co-authored book chapter on marine metapopulations.
September 30, 2003
- Nancy Lo visited the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute (TFRI) and three universities in Taiwan from September 6 -21. She met with fisheries scientists to discuss the results of two cruises conducted early this year and the improvement of future cruises, hopefully the beginning of a long-term ichthyoplankton survey around Taiwan, similar to CalCOFI. The TFRI is interested in purchasing Pairovet, MANTA, and CUFES for their future survey. The TFRI and three local universities will collaborate in such a way that the TFRI provides ship time in collecting the biological and oceanographic data and the three universities will process the biological data. When they need to they will seek assistance from the SWFSC, in particular with the identification of fish eggs and larvae.
- Lo also attended an international workshop on sustainable management of tropical and subtropical fisheries hosted by the National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung, Taiwan, from Sept 11-15th and delivered two papers: one on modeling egg deposition rates and adult mortality of market squid and management strategy, and the other on regional estimates of sardine biomass off the west coast of the North American continent (part of the Trinational Sardine Forum).
- Lo and Dan Rosenblatt have been working on hake larval data to derive a time series of unbiased estimates of larval production from data collected during the 1951-84 CalCOFI surveys and 2003 January-February cruise which was extended to the coast of San Francisco. The preliminary results were presented in a FATE report compiled by Anne Hollowed of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and her associates this month.
- Christian Reiss attended a workshop on environmental indicators for fish stock assessment in Seattle, WA from September 22-23. He presented updated information on a host of FRD projects linking environmental variability to fish population variability. Contributions from Nancy Lo, Bill Watson, Rich Charter and Kevin Hill, as well as the re-analysis of the sardine population - temperature relationship, and the squid El Nino index were discussed. A workshop report will be produced by late December to describe the evidence for and against El Nino and regime effects on stock productivity.
- Al Coan held the second annual meeting of the HMS Data Coordination Group in La Jolla on September 15 and 16. The meeting was attended by 5 PIFSC, 2 PIRO, 1 SWR, 6 SWFSC and 2 F/ST staff. Highlights of the meeting included a review of progress made in 2003 consisting of 34 HMS data sets listed on the data portal (swfscdata.nmfs.noaa.gov - see Al for password and account number), metadata listings for nine of the data sets (the rest will be finished in early 2004), plots and publications listed for two data sets (the rest will be finished in 2004) and a data submissions catalog listing nine major HMS data submission details (the list will be completed in 2004). Outstanding issues identified in 2003 were resolved at the meeting and new issues for 2004 were identified. Also reviewed were projects that were funded by F/ST from Fishery Information Systems (FIS) funds of which the SWR/SWFSC received $20K for training, $20K for student help and $52K for database server hardware. Contractors are being supplied to assist in moving SWFSC legacy HMS data sets to ORACLE. FIS is also developing tools to archive metadata and a permits system that will be used by the SWFSC, PIFSC, PIRO and SWR in 2004. The complete minutes of the meeting should be distributed soon.
- Coan attended a conference call on September 23 with F/ST, PIRO, PIFSC, SWFSC and SWR to discuss the development of a permits system for PIRO and SWR/SWFSC. The Oracle permits system was developed by F/ST under FIS funding and is being tailored to our needs in housing HMS, FMP fishing permits and possibly HMS import permits in 2004. The meeting was held to garner information needed in the tailoring process.
September 9, 2003
- Chuck Oliver noted a "Dive operations plan for recovery of California State University Monterey Bay's multibeam sonar unit on Cortes Bank", was approved by the NOAA Diving Program's Safety Board. The multibeam unit was lost during the July white abalone survey at Cortes Bank in 275 feet of water. Modifications to an existing dive operations plan for collecting white abalone broodstock involved Melissa Neuman, White Abalone Recovery Coordinator (SWR), Dave Dinsmore (NOAA Diving Program), and divers from the Cambrian Foundation (Grant Graves and Tim Gallagher). The plan describes the recovery activities involving SWFSC ROV operations, Cambrian Foundation divers, the National Marine Sanctuary vessel Shearwater, and the CDFG vessel Swordfish.
- John Butler, John Wagner and Tony Cossio returned Sunday from a very successful salvage operation. Using the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's M/V Shearwater, the ROV team returned to Cortes Bank where seven weeks earlier Rikk Kvitek of California State University, Monterey Bay lost a multi-beam head valued at $230K while surveying white abalone habitat on board the R/V David Starr Jordan. After locating the multi-beam head in 262 ft of water, divers from the Cambrian Foundation dove on the ROV and recovered the multi-beam head. The California Fish and Game patrol boat Swordfish stood by and helped recover the divers in choppy seas. Thanks are extended to all agencies and personnel that participated in this effort.
- Dale Squires is working with the NOAA Fisheries Working Group on Excessive Shares in Individual Fishing Quota Programs to develop a set of guidelines on when there are excessive shares. Squires is also working on Our Living Economic Oceans (OLEO).
August 26, 2003
- Paul Crone and Ray Conser recently returned from a research meeting at the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries in Shimizu, Japan. This research involves collaborative work with Japanese colleagues on North Pacific albacore (NPALB) stock assessment. The meeting had two principal foci: (i) extending the time series of fisheries data used for NPALB assessment to include years prior to 1975 (the current starting year for the assessment); and (ii) advancing collaborative research on the application of advanced models for NPALB stock assessment. Both research items have been ongoing but progress has been hindered by the difficulties associated with handling detailed issues by correspondence alone. The face-to-face environment of the Shimizu meeting led to good progress on both of these research foci.
As a result of the meeting, the NPALB time series of fisheries data will be extended backwards in time to at least 1960, with the possibility (after some follow-up work) of going back to 1952. Significant progress was also made on the advanced modelling work using a fully integrated (length-based, age-structured) stock assessment model (MULTIFAN-CL). Much of the work on the latter focused on the intricacies of this modeling approach, which is based on detailed characterizations of the spatial and temporal attributes associated with the myriad of albacore fisheries operating in the North Pacific Ocean. Preliminary model runs were also carried out using the updated input data.
Overall, the meeting was a fruitful one. In addition to the progress made on the focused research items, the trip also helped to foster solid, cooperative working arrangements with Japan, which are necessary for assessing the status of highly migratory fish populations in the North Pacific Ocean. The results of this meeting will be presented at an intersessional meeting of the North Pacific Albacore Workshop, which will be held in conjunction with the next ISC meeting in February 2004. In addition, a jointly authored paper with Japanese colleagues (and perhaps other collaborators) on the MULTIFAN-CL work will be prepared for the next North Pacific Albacore Workshop (December 2004).
- Nancy Lo obtained the preliminary results of the daily egg production and the spawning biomass of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) off California from San Diego to San Francisco based on the April CalCOFI cruise (April 6 - May 3, 2003). The estimate of daily egg production is 1.46/0.05m2 (CV=0.18) compared to 2002 estimates: 0.728/0.05m2 (CV = 0.17). The spawning biomass was estimated to be 465,169 mt (CV=0.36) for an area of 365,906 km2, based on the estimate of 2003 daily egg production and the estimate of the daily specific fecundity (number of eggs/population weight (gm)/day): 22.94 from the 2002. The survey area in 2003 is greater than the area in 2002 (325,082 km2), which covered the area from San Diego to Monterey. The estimates of the spawning biomass of Pacific sardine in 1994 and 1996 - 2002 are 129,000 mt, 83,000 mt, 440,000 mt, 310,000 mt, 280,000 mt, 1.06 million mt, 791,000 mt, and 206,000 mt respectively.
- Nancy Lo and Cleridy Lennart of IATTC, the President and Vice President of the San Diego Chapter of the American Statistical Association, 2003-2005, organized a one-day short course on "Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS), An Alternative to Neural Nets," of special interest to those interested in automated linear and logistic regression model construction. The August 16 course was well attended with a total of 37 attendees, including 8 from the SWFSC and IATTC. The SDASA thanks SWFSC for providing the facility for this event.
- Dave Holts returned from Prince William Sound where he participated in a salmon shark tagging project. This project is part of the Census of Marine Life's Tagging of Pacific Pelagics (TOPP) project directed by Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station researchers. Holts and the Stanford researchers successfully tagged and released 47 adult salmon sharks in 10 days of fishing. Fifteen of the sharks were tagged with a variety of satellite archival tags designed to identify their migration habits and the physical environment they inhabit.
- Sue Smith reports that contracts for the field sampler/fishery liaison and a commercial net vessel have been let for the thresher shark pre-recruit index and nursery ground study. Smith prepared field sampling notebooks with sampling forms and instructions for the project. Last week, Sue Smith traveled to Carpenteria and Santa Barbara to talk with contract fishermen and the contract field biologist/liaison about thresher shark sampling procedures, and to look over the contract vessels.
August 12, 2003
- David Demer and Stephane Conti are currently at St. Andrews University where they are analyzing measurements of the broadbandwidth acoustical scattering from Meganyctiphanes norvegica (northern krill). The measurements were made during the last two weeks at the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory in Oban, Scotland in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Brierley (SAU). The study, funded by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC), is aimed at improving the acoustical detection, characterization, and quantification of krill. Measurements of small crangon and large mysids were also made opportunistically. These data will enable an evaluation of the differences in broadbandwidth scatter from different species of similar sizes.
- Christina Show and Dave Au are developing a standard error based weighting system for determining the cpue time series for the thresher shark. This will be incorporated, as an alternate view, into the current assessment for that shark off California.
- Sue Smith and Dave Holts selected the contractors for the thresher shark pre recruit sampling to begin this September. Holts will be leaving this Thursday for a 10 day continuing salmon shark project working with Barb Block and staff at Stanford University. He will be working in Prince William Sound on this project in connection with the Census of Marine Life on the Tagging Of Pacific Pelagics (TOPP) project.
July 29, 2003
David Au reports that revised chapters of the highly migratory species FMP were sent out to the Pacific Council July 25 and 28. The revisions include the language and analyses pertaining to the Council's June 2003 choice to allow west coast longlining for swordfish out to 150 degrees west, recognizing that this could result in NMFS finding, under the Endangered Species Act, of jeopardy to protected species (especially turtles) and subsequent further restrictions on this fishing. A new analysis of economic impacts stemming from the FMP was also prepared as a new appendix in the FMP. Input describing SWFSC-La Jolla research and supporting activities was submitted to the Office of Sustainable Fisheries for a report to Congress regarding Shark Finning Prohibition Act and National Plan Of Action (NPOA)- Sharks.
July 15, 2003
Dave Griffith reports that all is going well on the F/V Frosti sardine trawling cruise off of Oregon and Washington. They got sardine eggs in the CUFES system and adults in the trawls on the 43 and 44 latitude lines. As they moved north to the 46 latitude line they ran into clear blue 17 degree C. water and are no longer getting any sardine. Today they go into Port Angeles, WA to exchange scientific personnel and then they will concentrate their effort in areas where they found sardine.
July 8, 2003
- Dave Holts reports that the juvenile shark survey was completed on Sunday. The minimum number of sampling stations were fished in the shortened number of days allotted for the survey. Catches were considerably below historical numbers. Preliminary estimates of CPUE are likewise low for the 2003 survey, which follows a long-term trend. The survey team tagged four blue sharks and 11 mako sharks with data-archiving satellite tags.
- Sue Smith is working on final revisions for the high-seas longline section of the highly migratory species (HMS) fishery management plan (FMP) chapter on environmental consequences of proposed actions. A final version of the plan will be submitted to the Pacific Council by July 25. Smith also completed work on specifications for a contract biologist/fishery liaison to help conduct and coordinate thresher shark sampling with commercial fishermen in the Santa Barbara-Ventura area during FY 03-04.
- A week ago, David Demer and Stephane Conti worked with Sean Hayes and Bruce McFarland's salmon ecology group at the Santa Cruz Laboratory to study the sound scattering spectra from coho, steelhead, and chinook salmon. A new multi-scattering technique was employed to make these measurements over an acoustical bandwidth of 30 to 150 kHz and over a variety of fish lengths. The California Department of Fish and Game participated by providing x-radiographs of the fish that are to be used in the development of sound scattering models. The aim of this study is to acoustically characterize the salmon as a function of species and sizes for the purpose of improving acoustical assessment techniques.
- Over the Independence Day weekend, David Griffith and David Demer were in Newport, Oregon, setting up gear aboard the chartered fishing vessel Frosti. The ship has begun conducting an acoustic, net, and lidar survey of sardine in the coastal north Pacific. On July 6 Dave Griffith, Bev Macewicz and Elaine Acuna departed from Newport, OR. on the chartered fishing vessel Frosti for a sardine survey off the coast Washington and Oregon. In the daytime they will be using the CUFES system searching for sardine eggs and acoustics for sardine adult schools. At night they will return to targets they found in the daytime and trawl for adult sardines. The cruise will be out until July 25 with a port call in Port Angeles around July 15 to exchange some of the scientific personnel.
- An eight-day NOAA ship David Starr Jordan cruise to map white abalone habitat began today. The area of the cruise is around and near Cortez Bank.
- Three of the division's assessment scientists, joined by the senior scientist for HMS, are attending the Standing Committee on Tuna and Billfish Meeting in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia.
June 24, 2003
- Russ Vetter worked with former NRC Fellow Vince Buonaccorsi who visited to work on manuscripts related to rockfish genetics and the calculation of mean dispersal distance. They are preparing a paper for Nature on findings relating dispersal to the design and utility of marine protected areas (MPAs) for management.
- David Au and Darlene Ramon began age-annotating the digitized imagery of shortfin mako shark vertebral sections. The recordings will be used later for computer-assisted examinations of annual growth increments for the age and growth studies on this shark. On a related matter, a mako that was tetracycline-marked and released on Dave Holts' shark survey was recaptured by Japanese longline fishermen near Hawaii. The tag, but not the marked vertebrae, was returned. Based on the growth curve developed to date at SWFSC, this fish was about 1.25 years old when tagged 7 miles north of Santa Catalina Island on July 10, 2000. On April 19, 2003, nearly 3 years later, it was recaptured about 360 miles NW of Midway Island by the longline crew. This male fish had traveled 2,880 miles since leaving nearshore waters off southern California at about age 3, based on what is known of mako behavior. Based on the growth curve, it was 16-18 cm shorter than expected for its age, about 4 years old.
- David Au, Norm Bartoo, Sam Herrick, Susan Smith, and Dale Squires met in early June to discuss the decision by the Southwest Region to conduct a single Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act for a Biological Opinion on sea turtles. This Biological Opinion would apply to all gear groups covered under the highly migratory species FMP rather than only California-based longliners. The import is that the California drift gill net fleet and other vessels covered under the HMS FMP would be impacted by takes of sea turtles beyond the limit allowed by the Biological Opinion; this could mean that, for example, the drift gill net fleet could be shut down by excessive takes by the California-based longliners.
- David Au, Sam Herrick, Susan Smith, and Dale Squires attended the June18 Pacific Council meeting where the longline-turtle issue in the HMS FMP was discussed. The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted on final approval of the Council's FMP, including measures for the California-based high seas longline fishery, which targets primarily swordfish. In March, NMFS had asked for a delay in final submission of the plan pending a scientific review by SWFSC scientists of new data on the take rates of the California-based high seas longline fishery on sea turtles, which indicated levels of take similar to those of the former Hawaiian swordfish fleet. It expressed concern about the Council's preferred action, which although it would require several restrictions similar to those of the Hawaii-based fishery, would also allow west coast-based longliners to continue to target swordfish when operating east of 150 W longitude. One basis for that November 2002 decision was a lack of adequate data on bycatch and protected species impacts from longline vessels fishing east of 150 W longitude.
After discussion of results and review of testimony, the Council voted not to modify its preferred high-seas longline option, thus allowing continued swordfishing east of 150 W longitude. On submission of the FMP to NMFS, it was assumed that NMFS Southwest Region would initiate Section 7 consultation under the ESA and subsequently prepare a biological opinion that would evaluate the anticipated impacts of the HMS fisheries to determine if they would jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species, including turtles in the high-seas longline fishery. It also directed the HMS management team to develop options for a limited entry amendment for this fishery to present to the Council in November. The Council also plans to recommend that NMFS increase observer coverage to at least 20% in that fishery and consider preparing a joint opinion on the biological impacts of both U.S. Western Pacific and Pacific high seas longline fisheries on leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. Council members indicated in their summary comments that until a jeopardy (or no jeopardy) decision was made, and an 'acceptable' level of annual take defined for these turtle species, it was premature for the Council to close the swordfish fishery outright based on a comparison of hooking rates, especially without the context of the effects of these rates on the species. It also indicated that impacts of the fishery need to be examined jointly with impacts of the Hawaii fishery and in comparison with the international fishery operating in the same waters.
- Donna Dealy, Sam Herrick, and Dale Squires are also analyzing observer trips from California-based longliners to evaluate the economic and financial impact of alternative area closures to reduce sea turtle takes (especially loggerheads and leatherbacks).
- Sue Smith and Dave Holts traveled to Ventura and Santa Barbara on June 4-5 to meet with marine advisor, John Richards (Marine Science Institute) and various setnet and setline fishermen in those areas. The meetings were held to discuss methods for sampling young-of-the-year common thresher sharks and possible participation in a cooperative sampling program. The Fisheries Resources Division is preparing to let contracts for sampling thresher sharks in inshore areas of the Southern California Bight, and work is expected to begin this summer and early fall. The purpose of the sampling is to investigate the feasibility of developing a pre-recruit index of this species, and to fill gaps in our knowledge of the thresher's core nursery habitat.
- John Butler presented a review of the cowcod rebuilding program to the Groundfish Management Team STAR panel in Seattle on May 29. On June 6, Butler, John Hunter and Dick Neal participated in a conference call with HQ on white abalone research permits. The call resolved some of the issues which had been delaying the permit. Butler is traveling to Mexico on June 9 to meet with INP representatives on transboundary abalone issues.
- Nancy Lo has been analyzing historical sardine egg and larval data based on CalCOFI surveys from 1951-64 before the collapse of the sardine population. This is part of the preparation for the STAR panel for the small pelagic fish later this year. The initial analysis indicated that in this period the estimates of spawning biomass using daily egg production method (DEPM), for the first 6 months reached the peak in 1954: 84,000 mt for the highly concentrated area of 185,000 km2 from San Francisco to the end of Baja California. In 1964, the estimated spawning biomass decreased to 3,340 mt with the high concentrated area reduced to a coastal area of 9,800 km2. The CV's of all estimates are high. For comparison purposes, the estimate of spawning biomass of sardine in 2002 was 206,000 mt in a highly concentrated area of 88,000 km2 from San Diego to San Francisco.
- Nancy Lo was in Silver Spring attending the awards ceremony on June 18th. The paper by Nancy Lo, John Hunter and Richard Charter on "Use of a continuous egg sampler for ichthyoplankton surveys: application to the estimation of daily egg production of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) off California" was selected the best publication 2001, Fisheries Bulletin, Volume 99.
- Christian Reiss participated in travel to a small pelagics workshop in Mazatlan, Mexico, from June 11_13, at the invitation of the Instituto National de la Pesqueria. He presented the keynote talk on 'Future Directions of Sardine Research in the California Current'. The talk was well received and there was considerable interest in collaborative scientific investigations along southern and Baja California.
- David Demer has returned from the ICES working group meetings on fisheries acoustics, science and technologies held last week in Bergen, Norway. David presented two talks summarizing recent progress in the development of a multi-scattering technique for characterizing the broadband width scattering spectra of fish and zooplankton, and the design, development, and use of multi-instrumented small craft and buoys for ecosystem assessments. Demer was elected to Chair the group's meetings for the next three years.
- The contract for the summer sardine trawl/acoustic survey off Oregon and Washington has been awarded to the F/V Frosti. We plan to depart from Newport, Oregon on July 6 and complete the cruise in Astoria on the 24th of July. This cruise will be repeated again in February 2004 to compare differences between the summer and winter sardine populations of Washington and Oregon.
- Ray Conser traveled to Foster City, CA to attend the PFMC Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) meeting. During this meeting, the SSC reviewed the recently completed stock assessment for Pacific mackerel and an analysis of turtle bycatch rates in the swordfish longline fishery. In addition, a variety of other groundfish and marine reserve issues were considered.
June 3, 2003
John Butler and Ray Conser attended a Pacific Fishery Management Council stock assessment review panel meeting in Seattle, May 28-29. The panel reviewed stock assessment updates for cowcod, yellowtail, and darkblotched rockfish. John Butler presented the cowcod rebuilding review to the panel. The review was accepted by the panel and will be presented to the Council this week. Ray Conser served as a panel member and reviewer.
May 20, 2003
- John Hunter traveled to Monterey, CA last week for a one-day meeting with scientists from MBARI, Naval Postgraduate School, NOS Sanctuaries, University of Santa Cruz and NMFS Santa Cruz Laboratory to discuss potential collaboration to extend the coverage of the present CalCOFI survey to the Monterey area.
- Russ Vetter attended a meeting May 8-9 at the Habitat Office, NOAA Headquarters. The meeting was to further discuss the implementation of essential fish habitat legislation.
- John Hyde and Eric Lynn have returned from a very successful cruise in collaboration with Bob Humphries and the Pacific Islands Center. By using a shipboard molecular method of identification developed here at the lab, they were able to get the first photographs and descriptions of Istiophorid billfish eggs as well as refining work on species-specific identifications of larvae. This is a historic accomplishment! The eggs and developing embryos of blue marlin, spearfish, and swordfish are large (>1.5 mm) and highly pigmented. The pigmentation suggests good UV-B resistance commensurate with their location in the neuston. Eggs as well as larvae were concentrated in surface slicks. This approach is a breakthrough towards the goal of defining billfish spawning habitat and refining knowledge of billfish spawning ecology.
- Dave Griffith returned on Sunday from a week’s training course in Miami. RD Instruments conducted the course at sea for the new Ocean Surveyor phased array acoustic Doppler profiler. The course included software training, detailed descriptions of the new technology and extensive hands-on training of data analysis of the data collected during the course.
May 13, 2003
- Dale Squires was a panelist for a meeting of the International Environmental Policy group of the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS). Other panelists were Jeff Vincent, an environmental and resource economics professor from IR/PS, and Clark Gibson from the Political Science Department. Squires subsequently met with IR/PS, who are interested in creating a chair of marine economics at UCSD; Squires discussed possible sources of funding and potential focus of such a position.
- Squires and Peter Dutton continue to plan for their Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference Center workshop on conservation and management of Pacific sea turtles. Last week, Dutton met with Kitty Simonds of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council to confirm financial support from the WPFMC and Pacific Island Area Office (PIAO). The Bellagio workshop is co-sponsored by NMFS and The World Fish Center (ICLARM) and co-chaired by Rebecca Lent and Meryl Williams, Director of The World Fish Center. The multidisciplinary workshop will bring together 25 sea turtle biologists, experts in international law, and economics policy from around the Pacific. The intent is to evaluate and develop a broad suite of policy options and research possibilities.
- John Butler attended the Southern California Academy of Sciences meeting at California State University, Northridge on Friday May 9 and gave at talk on the Population Biology of Cowcod.
- Nancy Lo reports that the International Chinese Statistical Association 2003 Applied Statistics Symposium scheduled for June 22-24 in San Diego had to be postponed until June 2004 due to SARS since some of the attendees were from infected areas.
May 6, 2003
- Dale Squires, Sam Herrick, Sue Smith, and Dave Au attended the joint meeting of the Pacific Council’s Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Plan Development Team, HMS Advisory Panel, and HMS Subcommittee of the Scientific and Statistical Committee. The two-day meetings were held last week at Hubbs Sea World in San Diego. Jim Carretta (SWFSC Protected Resources Division) presented results of an analyses of observed turtle takes in the Hawaii- and West Coast-based longline fleets east of 150 deg W longitude, which were discussed by the Team and Panel and reviewed by the SSC. The Council is currently reconsidering its preferred management alternative to allow targeting of swordfish east of this line, but not west of it. After viewing the presentation, the Plan Development Team considered recommending a shift of the line eastward from 150 deg W to 140 deg W, an increase in observer coverage to 20%, and immediate action to begin a limited entry process. The team also plans to recommend that the Council consider a seasonal closure in the migratory corridor of the leatherback turtle. The HMS Advisory Panel, made up of industry, recreational fishing, environmental and consumer interests, voted to eliminate specification of any western boundary. If this alternative is adopted by the Council and results in a jeopardy finding, NMFS will have to determine the best reasonable and prudent alternatives (RPA) based on all areas where the fleet fishes. This would provide more possible options to fishers than if a boundary such as 150 or 140 deg W had already been established. Conversely, the environmental and recreational members of the panel voted for it because of the likelihood of jeopardy and closure of the fishery. The SSC found technical aspects of Caretta's analyses sound, but requested further details concerning the database used and inter-fishery differences before making a final determination about the validity of pooling the data.
- Nancy Lo participated the FATE meeting on April 28th in San Jose chaired by John Hunter and presented a talk on using hake larval abundance as an index of adult population based on data collected from January - February 2003 cruise, which was extended to San Francisco and historical data from 1951-84. Preliminary results should be ready by September 2003.
- Nancy Lo also spent some time dealing with SARS issues which will have an impact on the International Chinese Statistical Association 2003 Applied Statistics symposium at USD scheduled from June 22-24. There is a possibility that the symposium will have to be postponed.
April 29, 2003
- The Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Plan Development Team, the HMS Advisory Panel, and the Pacific Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) are meeting this week (April 29-30) in San Diego at the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute to discuss management options for the California-based high-seas longline fishery and the Center's recent analysis of turtle take rates east of 150 degrees W longitude.
- John Hunter is in San Jose, CA chairing the FATE Steering and Science meetings through April 30th.
- Ron Dotson and Amy Hays returned Thursday night after completing the southern portion of the spring CalCOFI cruise on the R/V Roger Revelle. Dave Griffith, Dimitry Abramenkoff, Bill Watson and Noelle Bowlin will return to San Diego on Wednesday on the NOAA ship David Starr Jordan after completing the northern portion of the spring CalCOFI cruise. They found sardine eggs on our northern-most line just north of San Francisco. We were not able to complete all of the planned work due to the loss of sea days.
- Eric Lynn and graduate student John Hyde are participating in a billfish ichthyoplankton cruise with Bob Humphreys of the Honolulu Laboratory. The objective is to use a molecular identification method (multiplex haplotype specific PCR) previously developed at the La Jolla Lab for rockfishes, as an on-board ship method to identify the eggs and larvae of billfishes. These eggs and larvae are not identifiable by visual methods. Billfish larvae appear to concentrate in convection cells or "weed lines" but the initial distribution of spawned eggs is not known.
April 22, 2003
- Ray Conser served as a reviewer and the PFMC Scientific & Statistical Committee representative on a stock assessment review panel (STAR) held in Seattle during April 14-18. The STAR reviewed recent stock assessments of Pacific ocean perch and widow rockfish. The review was an interactive process. Draft assessment documents were provided prior to the STAR meeting. Discussion and comment from the first few days of the STAR meeting served as the basis for additional model runs, resulting in final stock assessments that were significantly improved by the end of the week-long meeting.
- Sam Herrick attended the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, April 8-10, in Portland, during which the CPS advisory subpanel and CPS management team met to review the alternatives being considered for a short-term solution to the Pacific sardine harvest guideline (HG) allocation issue. After hearing a presentation from the team, advice from the subpanel and much public testimony, the Council voted in favor of the allocation alternative which would: change the management subarea line from Point Piedras Blancas, California to Point Arena, California moving the Monterey fishery from the northern to the southern subarea; initially allocate the HG 66% to the southern subarea and 33% to the northern subarea on January 1; pool and reallocate the unused amount of the harvest guideline 80% to the southern subarea and 20% to the northern subarea on September 1; and on December 1 the remaining unused harvest guideline would be reallocated coastwide. Under this alternative it was estimated that, unlike in recent years, the HG would be fully utilized, and that compared to the status quo, the Oregon-Washington fishery would gain 7,622 mt in sardine landings, Southern California would forego about 225 mt, and Northern California would gain 2,449 mt in landings. This will result in an overall increase of $1.9 million in net national benefits relative to the status quo. The proposed alternative will be implemented in August 2003 and remain in place for 2004 and possibly 2005, during which time the Council will develop a new long-term sardine allocation framework.
- The spring CalCOFI/Sardine survey continues to go well. The RV Roger Revelle has completed the southern half of the CalCOFI pattern and is currently running a track around the outside edge of the pattern to get a measure of transport in and out of the CalCOFI grid. The ship is expected back in San Diego Thursday or Friday this week. The NOAA ship David Starr Jordan has completed the line off Monterey where we continue to get sardine eggs. They have four more lines to complete the northern portion of the CalCOFI pattern. They are expected to return to San Diego on April 30.
- David Au and Christina Show presented a paper April 17 at the Western Division AFS Meeting in San Diego. Their paper, "Estimating a local MSY for the common thresher shark" was presented in the Biology, Ecology, and Management of Pacific Coast Sharks session.
- Dave Holts attended AFS all last week, co-chaired a session on sharks and presented Gary Sakagawa and Oscar Sosa (CICESE, Ensenada, Mexico) the AFS Western Division's Award of Excellence.
April 15, 2003
- This week, Division biologists and economists will be participating in the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society and the California/Nevada Chapter of AFS at the Hyatt-Islandia Hotel here in San Diego. Division shark project presentations will be made on Thursday during the session on Biology, Ecology and Management of Pacific Coast Sharks, moderated by David Holts.
- Dave Holts reports that five of the satellite tags deployed on sailfish last month in Costa Rica have popped up and are reporting data as scheduled. Five additional tags will report in the next few weeks.
- The spring CalCOFI and sardine survey is going well. On Sunday the NOAA ship David Starr Jordan exchanged scientific personnel at Port Hueneme with Dave Ambrose and Sherri Charter disembarking and Bill Watson, Dimitry Abramenkoff and Noelle Bowlin embarking. Moderate numbers of sardine eggs were found in the L.A. Bight area and we expect to find larger numbers north of Point Conception. The distribution does not seem to go as far offshore as last year. The map of sardine egg distribution for the cruise can be seen on the Fisheries Resources Division web page.
- Nancy Lo has been analyzing data on Pacific sardine eggs and larvae from 1951-64 to obtain a time series of indices of spawning biomass. This is part of the work for the upcoming STAR panel on Pacific sardine later this year.
- Bob Lea, CDF&G, is conducting two-day training on identification of fish from videos taken with the ROV for FRD staff.
April 8, 2003
- Sue Smith continues to work on presentations for the upcoming meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society.
- Al Coan, John Childers, Paul Crone and Gary Sakagawa have completed a paper ,"The 2002 U.S. North Pacific Albacore Troll Fishery." The authors review data collected in 2002, and present a brief status of the North Pacific Albacore stock. The paper will be presented by Al Coan at the U.S.-Canada treaty meeting in Vancouver BC, April 15-16, 2003. Highlights of the 2002 fishing season include a modest 1% increase in the catch (11,353 t) in spite of a 21% drop in fleet size, a 25% increase in catch rates (85 fish per day in 2002) and slightly smaller albacore in the 2002 catch (67 cm vs 68 cm in 2001). The status of North Pacific albacore is considered to be stable at a total biomass of 513,000 t (average catch for all countries for the last 5 years is 96,000 t) as long as recruitment and effort remain at current levels.
- Russ Vetter participated in a meeting to develop a short summary document that would outline the questions and research needed by NOAA to develop a policy for decommissioning oil rigs off the west coast and their possible use as fish habitat. The meeting was hosted by Hubbs Sea World Research Institute and led by Tom Bigford of Headquarters.
- On Friday Russ Vetter hosted a meeting of scientists from SWFSC and Scripps Institute of Oceanography who share a common interest in the automated molecular identification of fish and fish eggs and larvae. Common research goals and possible sources of funding were discussed.
- Last Friday Ron Dotson and Amy Hays departed on the R/V Roger Revelle for the spring CalCOFI and sardine survey. The Roger Revelle will be covering the southern half of the pattern. On Monday Dave Griffith, Dave Ambrose, Elaine Acuna and Sherri Charter departed on the NOAA ship David Starr Jordan for the spring CalCOFI and sardine survey. The David Starr Jordan will do continuous fish egg sampler (CUFES) samples on lines in-between CalCOFI lines on the southern half of the pattern and all lines on the northern part of the pattern. Both ships will be running the CUFES and sending in data daily that will be posted on the Fisheries Resources Division web site under "CalCOFI current cruise."
April 1, 2003
- Sue Smith is working on a presentation "Essential Fish Habitat for Pelagic Sharks in the U.S. West Coast EEZ" for the Western Division American Fisheries Society Meeting (WDAFS). Rand Rasmussen will be preparing the maps for this presentation and is co-presenter. The WDAFS meeting will be held in San Diego, April 14-17.
- John Butler, Dave Demer, Ray Conser and Paul Crone met with Ken Franke of the Outer Limits to discuss rockfish surveys using acoustics and ROVs off Southern California. Butler worked with Mr. Franke last fall comparing cowcod stock structure inside and outside the Cowcod Conservation Area.
- Conser gave an invited talk at the Oregon State University (OSU) Pacific Sardine Workshop, held in Astoria, Oregon on March 19th. The talk covered sardine stock assessments, harvest guidelines, and future plans -- including plans for the upcoming SWFSC sardine surveys in the Pacific Northwest (beginning in July 2003). Participants (approximately 50) included fishermen, processors, and international marketing specialists. The workshop was organized by the OSU Seafood Lab. Fresh sardines - prepared in several creative ways - were provided for lunch.
- Russ Vetter reported plans to create a small otolith microchemistry lab to begin to study the population structure of Pacific sardine and market squid. These mobile species may not have a high degree of genetic structure but may take on the water chemistry of their natal regions. The lab will emphasize clean, metal free, work spaces. An NRC fellow Emanis Dorval and Prof. Sharon Herzka of CICESE will be taking the lead in these activities. The prepared samples will be run on the new Laser Ablation-Mass Spectrometer Facility at the Scripps Analytical Facility.
March 11, 2003
- Al Coan, Gary Sakagawa and Jim Kinane (SWFSC) and Gordon Yamasaki (SWR) completed a paper entitled "The 2002 U.S. purse seine fishery for tropical tunas in the western-central Pacific Ocean." The paper is being presented to the annual South Pacific Regional Tuna Treaty Consultation in Majuro, Marshall Islands, March 11-13, 2002, by Gary Sakagawa. The 2002 catch increased modestly by 3% over the 2001 catch to 118,800 t. The fishery fished further east than usual (Christmas and Jarvis Island areas) due to El Nino conditions and caught more large yellowfin tuna than in 2001. Catch rates dropped slightly from 23 t per day fished in 2001 to 22 t per day fished in 2002.
- Coan, Jim Kinane, John Childers and Ken Wallace are developing documentation of permit, landings, logbook and observer databases for an upcoming meeting to discuss fishery information systems that will be held in Washington, DC March 24-28, 2003. The documentation will be combined with the Honolulu Laboratory's inventory and submitted on March 12, 2003. Participants will discuss development of standardized data systems and links to these systems to allow for efficient summarization of data needed to meet reporting requirements. Coan and Ken Wallace will attend the meeting from La Jolla and Robert Skillman and Karen Sender from Honolulu.
- Russ Vetter and John Hyde participated in a cruise sponsored by Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute to collect bocaccio and cowcod brood stock. The SWFSC is providing advice based on experience culturing rockfishes. The Hubbs-led project is an ambitious attempt to spawn and rear bocaccio and cowcod in captivity for possible outplanting and stock supplementation. The pilot project is sponsored in part by the fishing industry, oil companies, and NOAA Fisheries. The cruise aboard the vessel Outer Limits used set lines and traps as a means of capturing fish then allowing their slow retrieval to limit effects of gas pressure. Numbers of bocaccio (mostly 99 year class) were found at the fishing sites. Fewer large reproductive individuals were taken. Over 50 fish were returned to the lab. This attempt to recover deepwater rockfish is generating quite a bit of enthusiasm in the local fishing community.
- David Au and Darlene Ramon finished radiographing vertebrae of 22 large mako sharks from the collection. Body lengths of the fish ranged from 183 to 220 cm. From 6 to 9 "annual" growth increments were observed indicating fast growth.
March 4, 2003
- Ron Dotson, who recently returned from the February CalCOFI survey, reported that numerous signs during the cruise indicated the existence of El Nino conditions. These observations will be supported by the detailed analysis of the physical oceanographic and biological sampling done on the cruise.
Overall chlorophyll observations were very low, even on coastal stations, and secchi depths that are normally on the order of 10-17 meters coastally were 20-30 meters during this cruise.
Overall plankton volumes appeared anomalously low. Virtually no euphausiids (another key to low upwelling) and few copepods were observed. Some fish larvae were observed, including rockfish, although this is a bit early for many of the coastal spawners.
The sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly was up to 1.5 degrees C above normal for most of the sampling pattern. Other indications not directly related to the cruise are that albacore and bluefin tunas have remained off this coast all year rather than migrating offshore as they typically do in the fall.
- Dale Squires is completing work on a joint Forum Fishing Agency - NMFS report of the western and central Pacific Ocean tuna purse seine fishery with a special emphasis on fishing capacity and productivity growth. The report, co-written with Chris Reid of the FFA, will be presented to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty formal consultation in the Marshall Islands next week. Squires is also meeting this week with the United States Tuna Foundation and United Tuna Cooperative.
- Donna Dealy and Sam Herrick hosted a meeting to address PacFIN data issues as listed in Chapter 8 of the HMS Fishery Management Plan, on Feb. 26, 2003. Others that attended were Will Daspit of PSMFC (PacFIN System Manager), Gerry Kobylinksi and Steve Crooke of CDFG, Michele Robinson of WDFW, and Sue Smith, David Au and John Childers. The HMS FMP was adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council Oct. 29, 2002. Data problems that were addressed mostly concerned gear codes. HMS data need to be better identified within PacFIN as well as be more accurately reported. A committee of PacFIN, state and SWFSC personnel was formed to investigate ways of correcting historical HMS landings data in PacFIN and ways to improve future data collection at the fish ticket level.
- David Au and Darlene Ramon have been x-ray processing vertebrae of large mako sharks selected from the collection. Many are larger than 7 feet in length and are expected to be 7+ years of age.
February 25, 2003
- The NOAA ship David Starr Jordan will return to San Diego this afternoon after completing the winter CalCOFI cruise. It completed Line 80 Station 60 off of Pt. Concepcion right in the middle of the storm. Those stations were missed during a previous storm earlier in the cruise. Ron Dotson, Amy Hays, Sue Manion and Jennifer Sheldon did an excellent job completing the northern part of the pattern under very difficult weather conditions. Our thanks to the officers and crew of the David Starr Jordan for an excellent job completing the cruise under these conditions.
- On Monday, John Hunter and David Demer met with Dave Burney (USTF) and Manuel Silva to discuss details of a research cooperative contract with the U.S. tuna fishing industry. The intention of this cooperative research is to help mitigate bycatch when fishing tuna associated with fish aggregating devices (FADs), thereby ensuring the long-term sustainability of FAD-based tuna fisheries in the tropical Pacific. The contractor will be a collaborator in this investigation that is of both scientific and commercial interest. Fishing efforts will be optimized and undesirable catch will be best avoided with better knowledge of fish species, behavior, sizes, and oceanographic habitat beneath candidate FADs. In May 2003, the SWFSC and contractor from the U.S. tuna fishing industry will conduct a 21-day research cruise in the tropical Pacific. The cruise will be conducted with a Class 6 purse seine fishing vessel and FADs provided by the contractor, and instrumentation and scientists provided by the government. The cruise will depart from and return to port in U.S. Samoa.
- Dale Squires is working on an economic analysis of tuna purse seine fishing capacity and productivity growth in the western and central Pacific Ocean for presentation at the South Pacific Tuna Treaty meetings in the Marshall Islands.
- John Butler, Susan Smith and Dave Holts traveled to Long Beach to inspect the vessel Tuna, which is being surplused by CDF&G which might be used for coastal surveys.
- A meeting, chaired by Ray Conser, was held on Monday on the data sources needed to develop a new sardine stock assessment model.
February 18, 2003
- Ray Conser traveled to St. Andrews, NB, Canada to serve on a review panel for the joint USA-Canada stock assessment for herring (February 10-14th). The herring assessment along with some groundfish stocks are jointly assessed under the umbrella of the Transboundary Resource Assessment Committee (TRAC).
There are many similarities between Pacific sardine and herring stocks in the NW Atlantic. Both Pacific sardine and herring in the Atlantic have increased substantially from low stock levels over the past 15 years or so. This rapid expansion makes it difficult to assess current status of the stocks with any great precision. The NEFSC has initialed annual hydroacoustic surveys on Georges Bank and this has provided estimates of absolute biomass for the first time. The survey is likely to become increasingly important as the survey matures and target strength parameters are refined. A similar effort would be quite beneficial for Pacific sardine. The TRAC process may also serve as a useful model for joint USA-Canada (and eventually Mexico) assessments of Pacific sardine.
- On Tuesday the RV Sproul returned to San Diego after successfully completing the station pattern for the cowcod conservation area survey. They had very good weather and were able to complete the work just before last week’s storm hit. The David Starr Jordan was off Point Conception when the storm hit and had to ride it out for about 15 hours. They were then able to do stations and made good progress. This morning they will stop in Monterey and disembark the SIO scientist and continue on with the northern part of the pattern. They are due back in San Diego on February 25.
- Dale Squires is speaking on the economics of sea turtle conservation and management at the Marine Science, Law and Policy Seminar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Monday, Feb. 18. Squires is also working on his analysis of tuna purse fishing capacity in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
- Last week we finalized the schedule for the special shark session at AFS Western Division's 2003 Annual Meeting entitled ‘Biology, Ecology and Management of Pacific Coast Sharks.’ Fourteen papers will be given and followed by a 2-hour moderated panel discussion. Center papers will be presented by David Au, Susan Smith, Suzy Kohin and Dave Holts.
- John Butler visited the Indominable to discuss modifications needed on the ship for the July white abalone collection cruise. On Friday he called Steve Leathery in HQ to check on the abalone permit. Steve assured him that the permit was on track.
- Russ Vetter hosted a surprise inspection from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. This was the first such inspection in five years. The inspector was checking the operating procedures and safety measures of our permit to handle radioisotopes. Eric Lynn and Valerie Andriassi briefed him on laboratory and at-sea procedures. In addition to routine training, record keeping, and waste disposal procedures, he was interested in post 9/11 changes to security. He was favorably impressed with building security updates including gates, cameras, and magnetic entry cards for the Genetics and Physiology Lab. We passed with no violations. Eric and Valerie are to be commended for their excellent track record in seeing that records were well kept, up to date, and safety procedures were followed.
- Hailiang Chen, Nancy Lo and Beverly Macewicz are working on an Admin. Rep. on a manual for processing data for DEPM: ‘MS Access programs for processing data from adult samples and estimating adult parameter and spawning biomass using the Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM).’ This report documents MS ACCESS programs written by Hailiang Chen (contract project code: TO #02-067 ) and data files required to compute estimates of adult parameters and spawning biomass of Pacific sardine off California based on the DEPM. Programs can be modified for other small pelagic fish populations with minor modifications.
February 4, 2003
- John Hunter, Bill Peterson, Liz Clarke (NWFSC) and Ned Cyr (NMFS HQ) met in Silver Springs January 22-24 to begin drafting a plan for the Alliance for California Current Ecosystem Observation (ACCEO) proposed to be included as part of the IOOS (Integrated Ocean Observing System) initiative. ACCEO is basically a plankton-based hydrographic survey (with shipboard bird and marine mammal observation) for the entire California Current Ecosystem (see ACCEO website for details). During the first day of the retreat, Mike Sissenwine and Bill Fox from NMFS, and Steve Gittings and Tom O’Connor from NOS advised the team on the optimal approach for developing the ACCEO concept as part of the IOOS. On the second day, the team met at the Ocean.US Office where they discussed the ACCEO concept with Eric Lindstrom (Director, Oceans.US ) and Tom Malone (Co-Chair U.S. GOOS Steering Committee). On the third day, the team met with Steve Gittings and his associates in the NOAA Sanctuary Office. The response to the ACCEO concept was positive, many of the worries of the team regarding certain details in the Ocean.US perspective were allayed and positive advice was provided for drafting an internal (NOAA) planning document for ACCEO.
- Dave Holts reports that the Driftnet Observer Program noted a mako shark recapture that had been marked with OTC during the 2002 Juvenile Shark Survey. The female mako was released near the west end of Catalina last June 24. At the time it measured 98 cm FL and was injected with OTC for age and growth studies. Blood and DNA samples were also collected. The mako was recaptured after 190 days at liberty south of Cortes Bank a distance of 120 nmi. Length at recapture was 113 cm indicating growth of 15 cm in 190 days. The vertebrae, stomach and skin and liver biopsies were also collected at recapture. The OTC marked vertebrae will be analyzed to determine annuli deposition time and to resolve questions of age and growth. This material will be delivered to the Center sometime in February along with other material collected for the Shark Research Group by the driftnet observers. Many thanks to all the folks in the Driftnet Observer Program and especially the very astute Jessica who collected this valuable material.
- Al Coan reports that the first meeting of the Data Standards Working Group (DSWG) of the HMS data coordination team was held at the Honolulu Laboratory on January 14-16, 2003. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Honolulu Laboratory (Jerry Wetherall, Robert Skillman, Karen Sender), PIAO (Eric Forney), SWR Long Beach (Pat Donley, Bill Jacobson) and La Jolla Laboratory (Al Coan, Ken Wallace, John Childers). The Group identified 5 project areas for possible development of standards, recommended documentation of all data sets and developed a schedule for implementation of the standards. The suggested standardization efforts cover data collection, data management, database management and data dissemination. The list of areas will be sent to the HMS staff for review. Work should begin on developing the standards in late February. Implementation should begin in Mid October. Future meetings of the DSWG will be held via video conferencing.
- The first meeting of the Data Catalog Working Group (DCWG) of the HMS data coordination team was held at the La Jolla Laboratory on January 28-29, 2003. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Honolulu laboratory, Jerry Wetherall (teleconference), Jan Pappas, Brent Miyamoto, and Karen Sender (teleconference); PIAO, Tom Swenarton; SWR Long Beach, Bill Jacobson; and La Jolla Laboratory, Al Coan, Ken Wallace, and John Childers. The Group developed a list of HMS data sets. The list of data sets will be sent to the HMS staff for review and comment after which the list will be added to the SWFSC Data Portal by Thanh Vu, SWFSC, La Jolla. The DCWG will then concentrate on developing meta data for each of the data sets. Work should begin on developing meta data in March and should be completed by October 2003. Future meetings of the DCWG will be held via video conferencing.
- Susan Smith, Dave Au, and Sam Herrick submitted chapter revisions of the HMS FMP to the Pacific Council the week of January 20th, but Council staff had additional corrections to these and other chapters. Michelle DeLaFuente helped the authors make these final changes before re-submission to the Council last week.
- Jim Moore, Tom Moore, and Thea Robbins visited the John Butler on Monday Jan 27 to conduct a sabellid worm inspection of the white abalone culture facility. The SWFSC passed with flying colors, thanks to the hard work of Larry Robertson.
- Nancy Lo attended a conference on the assessment of spawning biomass of sardine and anchovy off Chile in 2002, held in Talcahuano, Chile, January 28-30th. The conference was organized by the Instituto de Investigacion Pesquera, Chile.
January 14, 2003
- Last week Darlene Ramon, Rand Rasmussen and Dave Holts sent out the Billfish Angler Survey to 2500 recipients in their address data base. This is the 34th continuous year of the Angler Survey.
- Sarita De La Campa of CICESE consulted with Nancy Lo and Elaine Acuna for staging procedure and verification of sardine eggs collected by CUFES during IMECOCAL surveys in Mexican waters. This is part of on-going cooperative activities of the Trinational Sardine Forum among Mexico, Canada and U.S. fisheries agencies and industry to monitor the Pacific sardine population along the west coast of North America.
- Bob Fletcher, Sportfishing Association of California, and Ken Frankie, San Diego Harbor Patrol, visited John Butler on Monday to review research on the Cowcod Conservation Area. Both were pleased with the work and supported groundfish research in Southern California carried out jointly by John Butler and Tom Barnes (CDFG).
January 7, 2003
- The SWFSC hosted the Eighteenth North Pacific Albacore Workshop (NPALBW), which was held from December 4-11, 2002 here at the Center. Paul Crone, Ray Conser, Gary Sakagawa, Al Coan, and John Childers participated in the Workshop. Researchers from Japan, Taiwan, Canada, SWFSC (Honolulu Laboratory), and IATTC attended this year’s Workshop. Crone and Conser presented results from assessments they conducted regarding the albacore population. Coan discussed updates and revisions to the centralized data base, Childers presented fishery statistics concerning the U.S. troll fishery and recent developments with a recently implemented archival tagging program. Sakagawa served as chairperson.
Paper 1: Stock assessments of North Pacific albacore using statistical models
Paper 2: Stochastic aspects of biological reference points and population projections for North Pacific albacore
Results from VPA-based assessments conducted by both Paul and Ray, as well as Japan researchers indicated that population abundance is still at higher levels than observed during the 1980s However, estimates of fishing pressure (say F) have been relatively high, particularly for juvenile fish (ages 3-5), and prolonged periods of elevated F would likely lead to reduced abundance in the future, i.e., all estimates of projections resulted in decreased abundance, regardless, of the assumptions concerning levels of recruitment in the future (Figures 1-3 for total biomass and 4-6 for spawning stock biomass projections in Paper 2). The population is currently being fished at a F20% level (see Figures 9-10 in Paper 2), which is a level (say MSY ‘proxy’) that is considered to be a minimum biomass threshold for some fish populations, or an exploitation level that could compromise the stock’s ability to sustain its size over a long-term horizon. However, it is important to note that minimum biomass thresholds have not been objectively determined for the tuna stocks in general (or most other animal populations for that matter), and albacore is likely a relatively productive fish stock that can sustain elevated levels of fishing pressure for short periods of time, given of course, recruitment remains relatively high in the near future.
In terms of recent recruitment strength, the consensus from the Workshop is that the population is still in a period of ‘high productivity,’ which is illustrated in the estimated time series of recruitment (Figure 4 in Paper 1). That is, generally speaking, all model configurations (hypothesized ‘states of nature’) suggested that recruitment was generally lower during the mid-1970s through the late 1980s, and subsequently, has increased. In summary, stock size will likely remain relatively constant over the next few years if recruitment remains at levels observed over the last decade. However, if recruitment levels decline to those observed during the 1970-80s, population biomass could decline markedly, given F remains at its current, elevated level.
Also, Crone presented preliminary results from statistical modeling research using MULTIFAN-CL software. The model is a length-based, age-structured analysis that allows much greater flexibility than the VPA-based analysis above. That is, the MULTIFAN-CL model analysis is based on detailed evaluations of each fishery’s dynamics, including issues surrounding catchability and selectivity; this is not possible in the ADAPT model analysis (i.e., VPA-based model above). Although substantial progress has been made with the MULTIFAN-CL model analysis, much work is needed in the future, including rigorous examination of the input data and inclusion of tagging-related information.
Finally, Canada (DFO) will host the Nineteenth North Pacific Albacore Workshop in early 2004 and plans are underway to conduct an intersessional meeting in late 2003 in Taiwan, in efforts to address issues of data quality and continued development of alternative statistical models (e.g., MULTIFAN-CL).
- Christian Reiss reported for work on 12/16/02 and will work principally for FRD as part of the FATE Program. Reiss received his Ph.D. in biological oceanography from Old Dominion University (ODU, VA) in 1997, and then completed a 3-year post doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) as part of the Canadian GLOBEC Program. Reiss returned to ODU in 2000 as a research scientist. While there he worked on both the reproductive biology of bluefish and coupled bio-physical transport phenomenon for several species of shelf-spawned estuarine-dependent fish.
- David Demer reports that a paper was published this month in ICES Jour. Mar. Sci., 60:147-154 (2003), "A comparison of lidar and echosounder measurements of fish schools in the Gulf of Mexico," by J. H. Churnside (NOAA/ETL), D.A. Demer (NOAA/NMFS/SWFSC) and B. Mahmoudi (FMRI). The paper describes NOAA's Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) system for surveying fisheries resources from a fast-moving aircraft. The analysis shows excellent agreement between volume backscatter of light (from the LIDAR) and sound (from scientific echosounders) from a variety of epi-pelagic fish species surveyed off Tampa Bay, Florida. The paper also highlights that aerial LIDAR surveys do not have the biases of fish-avoidance reaction potentially affecting acoustic and trawl surveys. Funding for this research was jointly provided by the Florida Marine Research Institute, NOAA's Environmental Technologies Laboratory, and The SWFSC's Fisheries Resources Division (FRD).
- Claire Debever, a Masters student from the University of Paris, has completed her thesis project with FRD's Advanced Survey Technologies Program (AST). She used three-frequency acoustic volume backscatter data to identify and map the relative densities of fish and zooplankton off the west coast of the United States of America, and in the Hawaiian EEZ. These data, collected during the Marine Mammal Division's ORCAWALE survey in 2001and HICEAS survey in 2002, respectively, describe potential marine mammal forage. Claire's 78 page thesis is currently being edited for publication.
- Stephane Conti, a Ph.D. student from the University of Paris, is currently measuring the broadbandwidth acoustical scattering and absorption spectra from sea bass at IFREMER in Montpellier, France. He aims to acoustically identify the species, sizes, and maturity state of the fish. He is employing a novel multi-scattering technique that allows these measurements to be made accurately and precisely on fish swimming in highly echoic tanks, and without a system calibration. By corroborating physics-based scattering models, the results can be used to interpret multi-frequency echosounder data collected in the open ocean. Early last year, the method was used by AST to successfully make such measurements on anchovy, sardine, and Antarctic krill. In December 2002, Demer and Conti used the method to make such measurements on bluefin and yellowfin tuna at the Tuna Research and Conservation Center in Monterey, California.
- Sam Herrick and Dale Squires are working on the HMS FMP's Regulatory Impact Review and Regulatory Flexibility Act analyses.
- John Butler participated in the White Abalone Recovery Team meeting Dec 13-14. The team discussed recovery options and extinction modeling.