Virginia Institute of Marine Science
The threats affecting living marine resources are diverse, including overfishing, climate change, and pollution. In response to long-term challenges in fisheries management, a more holistic evaluation of the natural and anthropogenic drivers of populations sizes is needed. Ecosystem management (EM), a suite of strategies that incorporate ecosystem considerations into fisheries and ecosystem management, can be difficult to implement in practice. In the Mid-Atlantic, efforts to implement EM are ongoing; one output has been the annual ‘State of the Ecosystem Report’ for the region, synthesizes available data on a variety of environmental, ecological, and socioeconomic factors. Historically, the data needed for EM in Chesapeake Bay were either incomplete or nonexistent. In 2002, the Chesapeake Bay Multispecies Monitoring and Assessment Program (ChesMMAP) was developed to assist in filling these data gaps, and ultimately to support Bay-specific species and ecosystem assessment modeling. ChesMMAP is a fishery-independent monitoring survey that uses a bottom trawl designed to sample late juvenile-to-adult fishes in the mainstem of Chesapeake Bay. Since 2002, this program has provided data on relative abundance, length, weight, sex ratio, maturity, age, and trophic interactions for several important fish species that inhabit the Bay seasonally. In this annual progress report, we synthesize available biological data on 12 bony fishes that support local recreational fisheries, including abundance (biomass and number), length- and age-structure, sex ratio, maturity stage, and diet composition. However, in 2019, the survey underwent a major redesign: VIMS took possession of a new research vessel, the R/V Virginia, and the survey bottom trawl gear was replaced with a net consistent with the gear used by other regional bottom trawl surveys (i.e., the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program and Northeast Fisheries Science Center trawl surveys). At this time, the survey stratification was revised and changes were made to the cruise schedule. During 15 calibration cruises (2019-2022), 516 paired-tows were completed, which was deemed sufficient for robust statistical analysis. Species-specific intercalibrations have been conducted by applying log-Gaussian Cox processes to the paired-tow data and modeling the size distribution of the population at each sampling site and the size-structured clustering of fish at small temporal and spatial scales. The manuscript describing the application to the ChesMMAP calibration data is currently in review. The ChesMMAP data inform Bay- and coast-wide fisheries management decisions and the broader use of these data in theses, dissertations, and the peer-reviewed literature contributes to a better understanding of the Bay ecosystem.
For Sampling During: Calendar Year 2022 and Previous Years
Fisheries, Atlantic, Data
Prepared for: Virginia Marine Resources Commission and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Project Number: F-130-R-18
Ralph, G. M., Bonzek, C. F., Gartland, J., Gauthier, D. J., Gregg, J., & Latour, R. J. (2022) ANNUAL REPORT 2022 - Data collection and analysis in support of single and multispecies stock assessments in Chesapeake Bay: The Chesapeake Bay Multispecies Monitoring and Assessment Program. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary. doi.org/10.25773/pnw1-0717