Goals and Objectives

Our overall objective is to use microsatellite DNA analysis to sensitively define the migrational boundaries of monkfish stocks coast-wide. This study will build on our earlier RSA-funded genetic study in accurately defining the coast-wide stock structure of monkfish and in providing a model with which to accurately determine and compare the biological characteristics (age and growth, longevity, reproduction, natural mortality) of individual stocks. Our genetic results have the potential to redefine how monkfish stocks are managed in U.S. waters.

Goal 1: Re-establish and extend our collaborative and comprehensive sampling and analysis program that encompasses the entire range of monkfish in order to test a set of hypotheses.

Goal 2: Determine how many genetic stocks of monkfish occur within its coast-wide distribution and sensitively define their spatial boundaries.

Hypothesis 0: There are two genetic stocks of monkfish in U.S. waters that correspond to the management model now in effect; one north of Georges Bank and one south of Georges Bank.

Hypothesis 1: There is only a single stock of monkfish in U.S. waters and coast-wide.

Hypothesis 2: There are two or more stocks of monkfish in U.S. waters and coast-wide but their boundary does not occur at Georges Bank.

Goal 3: Determine if the extent of temporal variation in microsatellite allelic frequencies among stocks is greater than the extent of spatial variation.

Hypothesis 0: Allelic frequencies are temporally stable between seasons and over several collection years within individual stocks.

Hypothesis 1: There are significant differences in microsatellite allelic frequencies among different collection years within individual genetic stocks.

Hypothesis 2: There are significant differences in microsatellite allelic frequencies between seasons within individual genetic stocks.

Goal 4: Form an Advisory Committee of stock assessment scientists, fishermen, and resource managers to effectively communicate the project results and conduct a workshop on integrating project results into management and monkfish stock assessment activities.

Priority Needs Addressed

This proposal will address the following 2016 Monkfish RSA priority:

Priority 2: Studies of stock structure/stock identification and implications for stock assessment and fisheries management.

Anticipated Outcomes

Our results will be directly applicable to the assessment and management of the monkfish resource by specifically defining their fine-scale stock structure of monkfish throughout their range, confirming that this structure is stable over the short and long term. This will help to refine their migration patterns within and between current management areas as well as inshore and offshore areas.


This project will provide much needed data on monkfish stock definition and migration patterns. Actual data on monkfish genetic population structure are uncertain in the current monkfish assessment and our results can serve as a biologically justifiable foundation for managers to compare life history characteristics among monkfish stocks. Interim and final reports will be submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The approved final report will also be submitted to the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC), the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) and all interested industry members. Presentation will be made to these and other public bodies upon request. Results will be made available through peer-reviewed publications as well as in publications more geared to the fishing industry.


Tara McClintock
Fisheries Specialist
631-727-7850 x 317

Last updated July 26, 2019