Project Description: Improving the Data Available for Stock Assessments and Management of West Coast Groundfish through Collaborative Fisheries Research

Summary

The West Coast of the US critically needs robust information on its nearshore groundfish, as the precautionary approach used in fisheries management when data are limited necessarily reduce access and concomitantly the potential social and economic benefits of California’s nearshore fisheries. A primary mechanism for increasing access to groundfish along the west coast is to: 1) improve the data available for stock assessments; and, 2) improve the scale of management by providing data about species at more appropriate ecological and social scales. Indeed, marine fisheries in California and along the West Coast of the U.S. suffer from a mismatch between the large spatial scale at which stock assessment and management occurs and the much smaller spatial scale of stock structure and distribution of fishing pressure. As long as this mismatch exists, management will remain challenged to prevent localized depletion and population crashes even when sophisticated modeling and management approaches are employed. This work seeks to address both 1) the need for data for federal stock assessments, and 2) the need to build regionally specific data that will eventually allow for smaller scale, more ecosystem based fisheries management called for the Marine Life Management Act and its Fisheries Management Plans. Moreover, California is mandated through the MLMA to use it marine protected areas as tools in fisheries management (CA Fish and Game Code §§ 2850-2863). Importantly, this work addresses all of these items and uses successful 10-year collaboration with fishermen and fishing communities on the Central Coast of California. We are building on large previous investments of time, money and partnerships on the Central Coast of California. The project builds on a data set that was collected initially through the baseline monitoring effort for the Central Coast MPA network. The work is based on a vetted and published protocol that was developed collaboratively with fishermen, NOAA fisheries scientists, and academics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Moss Landing Marine Labs.

Student Involvement

The primary research coordinator is a MLML graduate student enrolled through CSUMB, assisted by 2 additional CSUMB/MLML graduate students.

Broader Significance

We anticipate 3 major impacts: 1) Involving the fishing community in data collection used for management of the resource; a fundamental step in creating a more collaborative approach to management; 2) production of critically needed data that can be used in traditional stock assessments; and 3) provision of data that can be used by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine the efficacy of its marine protected areas on nearshore fish populations.

IfAME Principal Investigator

Dr. James Lindholm

Financial Support

NOAA

Field Support

Huli Cat sportfishing charter vessel

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