Research Needs in Council Fishery Management Plans


Habitat and species specific research needs identified in Council fishery management plans are presented below for the following species or species complexes - penaeid and deepwater shrimp, spiny lobster, coastal migratory pelagics, red drum, golden crab, the snapper grouper complex, calico scallops and pelagic Sargassum habitat.

Shrimp

Rock Shrimp
The following research needs are listed in no particular priority order:
1. Recruitment processes and life history strategy.
2. What are the settlement patterns of juveniles with respect to depth? What are the subsequent development and mortality rates, and how do they vary across depths?
3. Growth rates. Accurate, detailed laboratory experiments to test effects of ecological variables are particularly desirable.
4. Reproductive cycle.
5. Seasonal movements.
6. Habitat preferences. Basic ecological questions concerning physiological ecology, refuges and foraging habits, trophic dynamics, and community relationships remain largely unanswered.
7. Basic physiology of rock shrimp, biogeography, and systematics.

Additional fishery management related items include:
8. Estimate potential yield.
9. Document economic and social information of fishermen and dealers.
10. Identification of the extent of existing bottom habitat suitable for rock shrimp in the South Atlantic Council's area.
11. Bycatch characterization of the rock shrimp fishery.

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Shrimp Bycatch Research Needs

The research needs listed below are specified to bycatch.
1. Characterization of bycatch in the rock and royal red shrimp fisheries.
2. Determine the impact of shrimp trawl bycatch on the habitat and all non-target species of fish and invertebrates (i.e., include impacts on habitat and all incidental species, not just the impact on other "fishery resources").

The following research needs are summarized from recommendations presented in the bycatch characterization report for the South Atlantic region (SEAMAP 1996):
1. Shrimp effort data needs to be collected to provide estimates based on time fished (or number of tows), rather than at the trip level. Future sampling needs to be improved with respect to collection of both shrimp effort and bycatch characterization data.
2. Future characterization effort should be expanded to include important strata for which no observer data is available and strata which have low sample sizes.
3. Bycatch monitoring should be conducted regularly if data are to be used in stock assessments. Conduct characterization for 5 years after implementation of state and federal bycatch reduction regulations to determine the effectiveness of the gears used, and to establish new baseline bycatch estimates for stock assessments.
4. Long-term characterization data sets should be funded.

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Snapper Grouper Research Needs

To understand the causes of fishery declines and better predict the effects of human activities on fishery populations, the following research needs relative to snapper grouper habitat are provided so that state, federal, and private research efforts can focus on those areas that would allow the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to develop measures to better manage snapper grouper and their habitat:

1. Identify optimum snapper grouper habitat and environmental and habitat conditions that limit snapper grouper production (e.g., what are the critical fisheries habitats for food, cover, spawning, nursery areas, and migration?);
2. Determine the relationship between juvenile snapper grouper and estuarine habitat. If an obligatory relationship is found, determine the distributions, rates of change, and documented causes of loss for estuarine habitat types;
3. Quantify the relationships between snapper grouper production and habitat (e.g., what are the key trophic pathways in the ecosystem, and how does the flux of essential nutrients, carbon compounds, and energy through these systems influence fisheries productivity?);
4. Determine the relative effects of fishing, pollution, and natural mortality on fishery population dynamics. Also determine the effects of cumulative habitat loss on fisheries productivity and economic value;
5. Determine methods for restoring snapper grouper habitat and/or improving existing environmental conditions that adversely affect snapper grouper production. The 29 recommendations for future studies in Bohnsack and Sutherland (1985) are supported here; and
6. Identify essential fish habitat - habitat areas of particular concern for snapper grouper.

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King Mackerel Research Needs

1. Continued refinement of estimates of sustainable yield, condition of the stock, and stock structure. This requires improved estimates of age composition of catches, recruitment, natural mortality, total catch, growth rate, and standing stock.
2. Develop fishery independent methods of assessing stock abundance.
3. Develop and refine estimates of economic value of the recreational and commercial fisheries on the mackerel resources, including effects of regulations on these values.
4. Determine impact of bag limits on the total catch and consider release mortality.
5. Compile king and Spanish mackerel price data by gear type.

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Spanish Mackerel Research Needs

1. Continuing refinement of estimates of sustainable yield, refinement of subgroups, and condition of stock. This requires improved estimates of age composition of catches, recruitment mortality rates, total catch, growth rate, and standing stock.
2. Develop fishery independent methods of assessing stock abundance.
3. Develop and refine estimates of the economic values of the recreational and commercial fisheries on the Spanish mackerel resource, including effects of regulations on these values.
4. Determine impact of bag limits on the total catch and consider release mortality.

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Cobia and Dolphin Research Needs

1. Increase general life history information.
2. Determine status of stocks.

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Red Drum Research Needs

Research priorities include the following list from the stock assessment for Atlantic coast red drum:
1. Direct the improvement in catch, effort and length frequency statistics from the recreational and commercial fisheries.
2. Direct additional effort in intercepting recreational fishermen through the MRFSS who fish nighttime hours.
3. Increased tagging efforts on age 3-5 year old red drum, with directed effort to recapture subadult and adult red drum to determine if disappearance is due in part to offshore emigration.
4. Standardize sampling of the Atlantic coast subadult red drum population to develop a long-term index of recruitment.
5. Develop a more reliable maturity schedule for population level analyses.
6. Determine relationships between annual egg production and female length or weight for Atlantic coast red drum.
7. Develop a more reliable estimate of natural mortality through directed sampling of the adult population.

Other research needs identified in Section 5.7 of the Source Document for the Atlantic coast red drum fishery management plan include:
1. Determine escapement levels of juvenile red drum to the spawning stock by state.
2. Determine natural and fishing mortality rates.
3. Determine stock structure.
4. Determine survival rate of released red drum.
5. Develop a fishery independent index of relative abundance.
6. Determine inshore/offshore, as well as coastwide, migration patterns through enhanced mark- recapture studies, aerial surveys and sonic tagging efforts.
7. Determine spawning areas.
8. Determine the economic value of the Atlantic coast recreational red drum fishery.
9. Assess and modify, as needed, MRFSS procedures to more accurately survey red drum. recreational catch and effort.
10. Document and characterize schooling behavior for Atlantic coast red drum.
11. Encourage current efforts to continue collection of socioeconomic data in the MRFSS and to collect socioeconomic data in the commercial fishery, where available.

Red Drum Habitat Research Needs

1. Identify optimum red drum habitat and environmental conditions.
2. Quantify relationships between red drum production and habitat.
3. Identify the effects of water quality degradation on red drum production.
4. Identify areas of particular concern for red drum.
5. Determine habitat conditions that limit red drum production.
6. Determine methods for restoring red drum habitat and/or improving existing environmental conditions that adversely affect red drum production.
7. Encourage research in developing bio- or photo-degradable plastic products to reduce impact of refuse on the inshore, nearshore, offshore marine environments utilized by red drum at various stages of development.
8. Quantify impacts of acid rain on estuarine systems vital to red drum production.
9. Determine research that could be incorporated into a biological and socioeconomic impact assessment quantifying the effects of oil, gas and mineral exploration, development or transportation on red drum, their essential offshore, nearshore and estuarine habitat and the Atlantic coast red drum fishery.
10. Determine the impacts of dredging nearshore and offshore sand bars for beach renourishment on red drum spawning activity. In addition, the impacts of any type of dredging activity on all life history stages of red drum.

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Spiny Lobster Research Needs

Biological
1. Determine whether a relationship between the magnitude of postlarval recruitment and subsequent fishery yield exists and, if so, monitor long-term for establishing optimal harvesting strategies.
2. The eggs per recruit ratio in relation to overfishing definition should be defined and monitored.
3. Estimates of growth, mortality (M and F), and better indices of effort.
4. Determination of the relationship between the reproductive cycle characteristics in Florida and in the Caribbean, with postlarval recruitment in Florida.
5. Determination whether a relationship between juvenile habitat quality and abundance and magnitude of harvest exists on fishery-wide scale.
6. Estimate the impact that loss of nursery habitat may have on recruitment to the fishery.

Economic
7. Economic assessment of status of commercial and recreational fisheries including production (cost) and demand considerations.
8. Evaluation of the economic and social impacts of efforts limitation systems for traps.
9. Quantification annually of Florida recreational landings, effort, and CPUE.

Data
10. An evaluation of available catch and effort by geographic area, distance from shore, and number of traps fished per craft is needed.
11. Spanish lobster landings need to be sampled for size frequency and sex ratios.

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Golden Crab Research Needs

The following research needs (Items 1-8 taken from Lindberg and Wenner, 1990) are listed in no particular priority order:
1. Recruitment processes and life history strategy.
2. What are the settlement patterns of juveniles with respect to depth? What are the subsequent development and mortality rates, and how do they vary across depths?
3. Growth rates. Accurate, detailed molt staging should be incorporated into future sampling regimes, while controlled laboratory experiments to test effects of ecological variables are particularly desirable.
4. Reproductive cycle. Age at first reproduction is poorly known. Comparative studies and experimentation are needed to resolve questions of this basic life history trait.
5. Seasonal movements, encounter rates among potential mates and competitors, movement by mated pairs, and takeover attempts all need to be documented to test golden crab mating strategies.
6. Habitat preferences. Basic ecological questions concerning physiological ecology, refuges and foraging habits, trophic dynamics and community relationships remain largely unanswered.
7. Home ranging versus nomadism needs to be examined.
8. Questions of basis physiology of deep-dwelling organisms, biogeography and systematics, or parasitology and symbiosis.

Additional fishery management related items include:
9. Estimate potential yield.
10. Document economic and social information of fishermen and dealers.
11. Document information on market structure, development, and consumer acceptance of product.
12. Determine whether there is any substitutability with other crustaceans.
13. Identification of existing bottom habitat suitable for golden crabs in the South Atlantic Council's area would be useful.
14. Biodegradable panel research - determine the rate at which specified material degrades and evaluate materials/methods to meet objective of degrading within 14-30 days.
15. Bioprofile sampling - data on size, molt and reproductive status, etc.
16. Gear impacts and refugia.

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Pelagic Sargassum Habitat Research Needs

Additional research is necessary to insure sufficient information is collected to support a higher level of description and identification of pelagic Sargassum habitat. In addition, research is needed to identify and evaluate existing and potential adverse effect on pelagic Sargassum habitat, including but not limited to, direct physical loss or alteration; impaired habitat quality or function; cumulative impacts from fishing; and non-gear related fishery impacts.

1. What is the areal abundance of pelagic Sargassum off the southeast U.S.?
2. Does the abundance change seasonally?
3. Can pelagic Sargassum be assessed remotely using aerial or satellite technologies (e.g., Synthetic Aperture Radar)?
4. What is the relative importance of pelagic Sargassum weedlines and oceanic fronts for early life stages of managed species?
5. Are there differences in abundance, growth rate, and mortality?
6. What is the age structure of reef fishes (e.g., red porgy, gray triggerfish, and amberjacks) that utilize pelagic Sargassum habitat as a nursery and how does it compare to the age structure of recruits to benthic habitats?
7. Is pelagic Sargassum mariculture feasible?
8. What is the species composition and age structure of species associated with pelagic Sargassum when it occurs deeper in the water column?
9. Additional research on the dependencies of pelagic Sargassum productivity on the marine species using it as habitat.

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Calico Scallop Research Needs

1. Growth and mortality factors need further quantification to refine the critical size estimates.
2. The size frequency of individual calico scallop beds as they are fished, mature, and die is needed to further refine the minimum size specified.
3. There is a lack of information concerning the percentage of calico scallops that can be opened during an at-sea processing operation. The Council supports this research need because it addresses one of the issues and can be completed in a relatively short period of time and at low cost.
4. Survival rate of released calico scallops is required to further evaluate at-sea processing. There is at present only one boat processing at-sea but this could increase in the future. This research need addresses one of the issues and should be undertaken in the very near future given the low cost and short time frame required.
5. Information is needed to address the following areas concerning parasitic nematodes: (1) occurrence of the nematode; (2) survival of the nematode; (3) effect of processing, food handling, reconditioning and associated problems; and (4) consumer perception. Research on the parasitic nematode is aimed at addressing one of the issues and should be supported. Florida Sea Grant and the calico scallop fishing industry have expended some effort in this area.
6. The effect of ocean disposal of at-sea processing waste on the scallop beds should be investigated. Concern has been expressed that this could increase calico scallop losses due to predators. This addresses Issue Number 4 and given the potential increase in at-sea processing more information is needed by the Councils to properly evaluate the situation.
7. The effect of the removal of such a large quantity of hard substrate (shells) that could provide attachment sites for spat settlement should be investigated. This addresses one of the issues and it is recognized that this is a long-term research effort.

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