The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is launching two new surveys in the Gulf of Maine to gather data on two species whose management has become controversial — scallops and corals.
The scallop survey announcement follows a dispute in March over the New England Fishery Management Council’s closure of the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery, after the quota had been reached. NOAA research liaison Ryan Silva says there’s evidence that the scallop population in the area has increased while the quota has been relatively unchanged.
“The area closed when there was a likelihood that there wasn’t a problem with the resource, it was just the way that area was managed and the quota being met,” he says.
Two research vessels will now document the health of the northern Gulf’s scallop fishery in areas off the coast called Stellewagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. The findings could help set future quota levels.
At the same time, U.S. and Canadian scientists will make a tour of coral canyons that edge the Georges Bank east of Massachusetts, and off Mount Desert Island using a deep-sea marine drone.
Regulators are considering whether to close sensitive coral ecosystems to trawlers and possibly to lobster boats as well.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.