The first step toward defining monkfish stock structure will be to collect biological samples representative of the range of monkfish. Maine to North Carolina is an extensive area, which will require increased cooperation and coordination. A collaborative network of participants will be necessary to target and collect samples from this large area so that the stock(s) area can be determined and delimited. CCE will be responsible for the creation and coordination of the Monkfish Sample Collection Network. This network will represent stakeholders and scientists from both the Northern and Southern Management areas and will cover the entire range of the United States monkfish fishery. The main objective CCE will focus on will be to develop, establish and coordinate a coast-wide sampling program. Many tasks are involved in developing a comprehensive and collaborative sampling program that will allow us to conclusively define monkfish stock structure coast-wide.
Recruiting fishing industry participants and scientists coast-wide to participate in sample collection efforts will allow for the entire range of monkfish to be examined for genetic identifiers. Fishermen, dealers, wholesalers, and processors in ports across the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions will be recruited to build this all-inclusive network. The network structure will allow for information sharing on a real time basis, strengthening the bond between industry, science and management. CCE will steward this relationship through an extensive outreach program proposed for this project. The following list of individuals and entities have agreed to cooperate with the sample activities outlined in this proposal: Portland Fish Exchange, Cape Ann Seafood Display Auction and the New Bedford Whaling City Display Auction, Fulton Fish Market (35 dealers), Cape May Fish Dock and the ports of Hampton Bays and Montauk, New York, Point Judith, Rhode Island, Cape May and Barnegat, New Jersey, Ocean City, Maryland, Chicoteague and Hampton, Virginia, and Wanchese and Beaufort, North Carolina.
As identified in the monkfish fishery management plan, there are four broad areas used to manage and divide the fishery. We have further delineated these areas in developing our sampling strata. Please refer to the Figure 1 below. The northern and southern management areas, the offshore program area and the category G or H southern boundary line along the 38 degrees and 40 minutes latitude are all areas which we have further divided for the purposes of determining stock definition. Also included in the sampling strata are two locations within the inshore coastal zone from Maryland to North Carolina. Overall, fourteen strata have been designated for sample collection.
The sampling strata thus developed will provide us with a distribution of sampling effort to quantify stock structure through the entire range of the fishery as well as providing seasonal, depth and latitudinal dimensions to the sampling effort. The strata are based on the current management areas overlain on NMFS statistical areas. This will help to provide stock structure by various management areas. We have determined the minimum sampling targets to be 100-200 individual samples per stratum distributed over the course of two years for necessary temporal distribution.
A "sample" will consist of a 1-inch clip of flesh from the tail fin of a single fish that will be preserved in 95% ethanol. The minimum data fields that will be collected for each sample will include date of harvest, area (specific latitude and longitude), depth, VTR number and vessel name. Length information will be collected when possible as well as anecdotal information from industry about noticeable fishing trends in relation to spawning, egg veils and larger size or quantity of fish.
Using our network approach, CCE will coordinate with fishermen, dealers and markets to set up sampling opportunities. Samples will be obtained through the commercial monkfish fishery. Prior to commencing sampling, CCE will train all participants in the network on proper sample collection procedures. A detailed instruction manual and video instruction will be distributed to all participants for reference. CCE will assemble sampling kits, which will be distributed, to all participants. The sampling kits will contain fin clip collection vials, preserving liquid (EtOH), scissors, markers, pencils, data sheets, labels, vial stands, and instruction manual. Self-addressed stamped envelopes will be included for easy return of samples to CCE.
CCE will reference the monkfish permit holder list by area to target specific vessels and dealers by location and add them to our network. Communication with selected industry partners will be made in person for an initial program introduction. CCE will contact network partners on a daily basis by phone or via email to closely monitor landings activity and ensure sample collection from all strata is represented over time. CCE will coordinate sample collection with network partners according to fishing season, by area to meet sampling targets to cover the entire range of the monkfish fishery. This daily interaction will assure proper sample collection.
Sample Monkfish Kit
Contact has been made with both the NMFS-NEFSC bottom trawl survey and the Canadian Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans bottom trawl surveys to collect samples from Georges Banks and southern areas. NMFS-NEFSC has committed monkfish vertebrae samples from our previous project collected in their fall and spring trawl surveys of 2012, 2013 and 2104 that will be used in futher DNA analysis to evaluate intra-annual temporal stability of genotype frequencies. Contact has already been made with NMFS-NEFSC representatives to obtain blackfin monkfish samples from the spring 2016 trawl survey. This collaborative methodology will boost the success and confidence of this project.
CCE staff members will be responsible for dockside sample collection in the New York/Long Island region covering from Montauk to Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. CCE samplers are experienced in fin clip sample collection and dockside/at-sea biological sampling.
CCE will develop a database to target, track and verify all samples collected. We will coordinate and track sampling targets on a weekly basis, ensuring that project goals are met. CCE will also fill out all research survey sample collection request applications and send out necessary supplies. All samples collected will be received by CCE. Each individual sample will be logged, visually inspected and organized for shipment for DNA analysis. An updated sample database will be included with each sample mailing to NYU.
CCE staff will also be responsible for sample validation and verification in order to ensure the highest standards of quality control. The sample collection database will be audited on a weekly basis. CCE and NYU will have monthly conference calls to ensure the quality of the collected samples and data meet all specifications. The sample vessel trip report (VTR) number will be used to verify the details of the trip, most importantly the area of harvest. Latitude and longitude can be obtained from the VTR to determine exact location. The accuracy of this information is critical to determining stock area.
Research Set-Aside (RSA) Days at Sea (DAS) will be allocated to and monitored by CCE. Industry partners selected to participate will offer sample opportunities as well as conduct compensation fishing.
Last updated July 26, 2019