NOAA Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Awards Announced

Coonamessett Farm Foundation among recipients...
Atlantic Sea Scallops (NOAA image)

NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) are pleased to announce that 15 projects have been selected for funding through the Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program.

“The Scallop RSA Program truly has become one of the flagships of the scallop fishery,” said New England Council Chairman Dr. John Quinn. “The collaborative efforts that take place at sea between fishermen and researchers go a long way toward enhancing our understanding of what’s happening with the resource. The results of this RSA work funnel back to the Council and support stock assessments. Without a doubt, the Scallop RSA Program helps us better manage our extremely valuable scallop fishery.”

Projects will address research priorities established by the NEFMC, with particular focus on resource surveys. The awards are expected to generate more than $12 million; $3 million to fund research, and $9 million to compensate industry partners that harvest set-aside quota.

"We are excited to be able to work with the New England Fishery Management Council, industry, and scientists to fund sea scallop science through the Research Set-Aside program," said NEFSC Science and Research Director Jon Hare. "The projects funded support surveys, bycatch mitigation, and biological studies, all with the purpose of improving the information used in the management of the sea scallop resource."

The NEFMC established the sea scallop RSA program to address research questions that support management of the sea scallop resource. The Council sets the research priorities and researchers compete for funding through a federal grant competition managed by NOAA Fisheries. No federal funds are provided to support the research. Instead, projects are awarded pounds of scallops, which have been “set-aside” from the annual fishery quota for this purpose. Successful applicants partner with the fishing industry to harvest their set-aside award to generate funds for the research. There are active research set-aside programs for Atlantic sea scallops, Atlantic herring, and monkfish.

2018/2019 Scallop RSA Award Summary

Scallop Surveys

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) received new awards to conduct dredge surveys in Closed Area I, Closed Area II, and the Nantucket Lightship. Under an existing award from last year, VIMS also will conduct a dredge survey of the Mid-Atlantic Bight. As part of ongoing efforts to better understand scallop survey dredge performance, VIMS investigators received an award to evaluate the hydrodynamic characteristics of both lined and unlined survey dredges in the largest flume tank in the world, located in St. John’s, Newfoundland at Memorial University’s Marine Institute.

The University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) received three awards to conduct surveys using a drop-camera array. Through these awards, researchers plan to conduct high-resolution surveys of the Nantucket Lightship, Closed Area I, Great South Channel, and select portions of the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Management Area. 

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will conduct HabCam optical surveys throughout the Mid-Atlantic Bight and on the northern flank of Georges Bank. In addition to these surveys, researchers will continue to evaluate dredge effects on habitat and habitat recovery in the Closed Area II Habitat Area of Particular Concern.  

Coonamessett Farm Foundation will conduct a HabCam survey of the Nantucket Lightship and southern flank of Georges Bank. 

Bycatch Mitigation

Coonamessett Farm Foundation will continue its seasonal survey on Georges Bank, collecting information on bycatch rates for yellowtail flounder and other species relative to scallop meat yield. These data also will be used to evaluate sea scallop health and meat quality, biological questions about several flounder species and to examine lobsters for shell disease.

Coonamessett Farm Foundation will continue its loggerhead sea turtle tagging program, receiving funds to tag up to 20 loggerheads with water-activated satellite tags. Tag data will be used to evaluate spatial and temporal overlap between loggerhead sea turtles and the scallop fishery.  

The Coonamessett Farm Foundation also will be testing a dredge twine-top cover net in an attempt to quantify dredge selectivity characteristics.

Sea Scallop Biology

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) will investigate sea scallop density-dependence factors that may be affecting growth, mortality, and reproduction of scallops in the Nantucket Lightship and Elephant Trunk areas. In addition, VIMS will conduct a pilot study to extend the current stock assessment model to better account for sea scallop ages, with a particular focus on the Mid-Atlantic Bight and Nantucket Lightship areas.

WHOI will receive support to determine if a gonadosomatic index (GSI) can be calculated from Light Field 3D images of shucked scallops collected during fishing operations. The GSI is used to assess maturity and spawning events in many species of fish and shellfish, including scallops. If successful, this could improve the ability to collect and quantify scallop maturation and spawning data during the course of routine fishery sampling procedures.

For more information about these awards and the Scallop RSA Program, please contact Ryan Silva (978-281-9326), or Cheryl Corbett(508-495-2307).

Learn more about the Sea Scallop RSA program and previously funded research projects by visiting the RSA Program web page.

Table 1. 2018-2019 Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Projects

Set-Aside Award based on $10.50 per pound

Institution, 
Principal Investigator
Project Title Award
Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) Quantifying the Selectivity Characteristics of an Extended Link Apron using a Dredge Cover Net 83,320 lb scallops 

Est. value: $874,859
Research cost: $218,715
CFF An Optical Assessment of Sea Scallop Abundance, Distribution, and Growth in the Nantucket Lightship and southern part of Georges Bank 84,134 lb scallops

Est. value: $883,405
Research cost: $220,851
CFF Understanding the Impacts of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery on Loggerhead Sea Turtles

72,609 lb scallops

Est. value: $762,395
Research cost: $190,598.75

CFF Optimizing the Georges Bank Scallop Fishery by Maximizing Meat Yield and Minimizing Bycatch 190,182 lb scallops

Est. value: $1,996,912
Research cost: $499,228
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth (SMAST) High-resolution drop camera surveys to track scallop aggregations in Closed Area I and Great South Channel

33,626 lb scallops

Est. value: $353,073
Research cost: $84,065

SMAST High-resolution drop camera survey examining the scallop population and habitat in select portions of the Gulf of Maine 48,922 lb scallops

Est. value: $513,680
Research cost: $122,305
SMAST High resolution drop camera survey examining sea stars dynamics in extremely dense scallop beds of the Nantucket Lightship 38,288 lb scallops

Est. value: $402,027
Research cost: $95,721
Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)  An assessment of sea scallop abundance and distribution in the Nantucket Lightship (2 Year Project) 59,859 lb scallops

Est. value: $628,516 
Research cost: $125,703
VIMS The effect of density on growth, yield and reproduction of the sea scallop, Placopecten magellanicus (2 Year Project) 116,718 lb scallops

Est. value: $1,225,538
Research cost: $272,678
VIMS

An assessment of sea scallop abundance and distribution in Closed Area I and Closed Area II
(2 Year Project)

72,216 lb scallops

Est. value: $758,266
Research cost: $151,653
VIMS Age-based assessment in the sea scallop Placopecten magellanicu: a pilot study (2 Year Project) 65,978 lb scallops

Est. value: $692,772
Research cost: $153,630
VIMS Understanding Dredge Performance for a Lined versus Unlined NMFS Sea Scallop Survey Dredge 15,247 lb scallops

Est. value: $160,098
Research cost: $40,025
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) High Intensity Optical Survey of the Mid-Atlantic Bight Rotational Closure Areas: Elephant Trunk and Hudson Canyon 129,385 lb scallops

Est. value: $1,358,540
Research cost: $339,635
WHOI Developing a Spatially & Temporally Explicit Gonadosomatic Index through the Scallop Observer Program: A Pilot Study 45,019 lb scallops

Est. value: $472,696
Research cost: $118,174
WHOI High Intensity Optical Survey of Closed Area II and northern part of Georges Bank 114,616 lb scallops

Est. value: $1,203,468
Research cost: $300,867

CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.