Masters Program Research Overview:
With the recent reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act it has become essential to incorporate uncertainty in the process of setting annual catch limits (ACLs) and annual catch targets (ACTs). Currently, a great deal of emphasis is placed on data collection and modeling strategies to estimate scientific uncertainty, and committees both within and outside of the National Marine Fisheries Service review these techniques rigorously. However, far less effort is spent estimating and reviewing management uncertainty, a critical component of setting ACTs. Management uncertainty, in a very broad sense, can be thought of as the extent to which predicted catch levels equal actual catch levels. The magnitude of management uncertainty likely varies depending on the fishery type (commercial vs. recreational), fishery gear, fishery regulations (e.g. size limits, bag limits, trip closures, individual fishing quotas (IFQs), seasonal/spatial closures), and species type (e.g. life history, habitat preferences, niche). This project aims to estimate the magnitude of management uncertainty for fisheries in the Southeastern U.S. and understand how the magnitude relates to the factors described above. This will be accomplished by comparing preseason catch estimates to actual catches for stocks throughout the Southeast over time. The results of this study will have immediate and direct utility in the setting of future ACTs.Graduate Committee:
Dr. James Berkson (Chair, NMFS), Dr. Don Orth (VT), Dr. Steve McMullin (VT), and Dr. Jack McGovern (NMFS)
Undergraduate Honors Thesis (Funded through the NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program):
Assessing the Effectiveness of the Marine Life Conservation District at Waikiki
The Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District has experienced a significant decline in coral reef health over the past few decades, possibly as a result of reduced populations of herbivorous fish. By exploring the history of the Waikiki area, including ecological and human use changes, the current and potential management options for the reef were evaluated. Presently, the reef falls under three distinct management systems: a Marine Life Conservation District, a Fisheries Managed Area operating on a yearly rotational closure system, and an unmanaged area. Snorkel surveys were conducted in the summer of 2009, recording the fish biomass and algal type and density found along randomly set out transect lines. This study revealed statistically significant differences in algal cover between the three zones but insufficient data were collected to permit statistically significant conclusions to be drawn about fish biomass. The combination of this result and a literature review of research conducted in the area led to the recommendation that the Waikiki MLCD be expanded to include the adjacent Fisheries Management Area. Additionally, recommendations were made for the use of volunteers in surveying.
Paper available upon request.
Jennifer Barrett (NOAA Sea Grant, Reef Watch Waikiki), Dr. James D. Murray (NOAA Sea Grant)
Dr. Karin Warren (Chair, R-MWC), Dr. Doug Shedd (R-MWC), and Dr. Paul Irwin (R-MWC)