Researchers to use Climate Data to Better Predict Marine Distribution in Northeast
NOAA-supported project projected to improve commercial fish management
|Atlantic herring, one of the fish species being investigated by SoMAS researchers, has been underharvested two years in a row in the northeast region, potentially due to warming-driven distribution changes.|
Given these changes, the SBU team will use climate information to predict fish and marine mammal distributions on seasonal timescales to help fishermen and decision makers adjust their management approaches based on environmental conditions.
The team also plans to experiment with using these predictions to help reduce the incidental capture of non-target species, known as bycatch. Bycatch can increase costs and decrease yield for commercial fisherman, but more precise seasonal predictions of where marine mammals and fish will be distributed could decrease the likelihood of this concern.
“While traditional management approaches have focused on fixed areas, it is becoming increasingly recognized that bycatch could be reduced by incorporating dynamic environmental variables such as temperature into models to estimate high risk areas for fisheries bycatch,” said Lesley Thorne, PhD, Assistant Professor in SoMAS and lead investigator of the project, titled “Probabilistic Seasonal Prediction of the Distribution of Fish and Marine Mammals in the Northeast U.S.”
By combining species distribution models with climate models, the team will help predict where marine mammals and non-target species are most likely to occur over the next season.
“This information could have a significant impact in reducing fisheries bycatch,” said Thorne.
As part of this project, the research team will participate in the NOAA MAPP Program’s new Marine Prediction Task Force. The Task Force will allow the researchers to collaborate with other MAPP-funded scientists working on related projects, and combine resources and expertise to rapidly advance project objectives.
Co-investigators for the project are Hyemi Kim, PhD, and Janet Nye, PhD, both Assistant Professors in SoMAS.
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