Given the inherent difficulty in extracting information about trends in abundance from non-standardized fishery catch and effort data, the Gulf of Alaska's (GOA) commercial rockfish (Sebastes spp.) catch data are currently only included in stock assessments as a measure of gross removals. However, specific information from fishery-dependent sources may be used to improve stock assessments of commercially important rockfish species. For instance, data collected from commercial vessels that fish extensively in hard, rough, and rocky areas can complement the NMFS bottom trawl survey that does not survey these habitats. Furthermore, development of robust statistical methods to index population trends based on fishery catch and effort data, and surveys designed in collaboration with industry, may represent important and cost-effective options for fisheries management. This 2-year postdoctoral research position offered jointly by the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) and Alaska Pacific University - Fisheries, Aquatic Science & Technology Laboratory (FAST Lab) will investigate abundance estimates from fishery-derived information sources and the integration of these estimates with NMFS bottom trawl survey data into the GOA rockfish stock assessments. This project will involve cooperation with the Amendment 80 GOA rockfish trawl fleet and the Kodiak-based trawl fleet to build upon recent advances and cooperation with the crab industry (Hilsinger, 2014:https://www.npfmc.org/wpcontent/PDFdocuments/membership/PlanTeam/Crab/CrabSafe14/AKCRF.PDF).
As such, this postdoctoral research position represents a unique opportunity to collaborate with agency (NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center), academic (Alaska Pacific University), and industry partners, and lead the evaluation and development of methods for improving information available for the assessment of groundfish stocks in Alaska.
Specific project tasks will include:
- A statistical analysis to determine whether existing industry CPUE data in the GOA are informative about trends in abundance, what data would be the most useful from future industry-provided samples, small meetings with industry in Kodiak and Seattle, and an industry fishing trip off Kodiak (this work will be done by a post-doc under the guidance of the Co-PIs and collaborators);
- A workshop involving Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl fishers and stock assessment scientists to determine what options are logistically feasible to collect fishing industry data based on the results from activity #1;
- Development of the survey design that can be conducted by industry vessels over the areas which are either under sampled by the NMFS survey or not sampled at all due to the rough sea bottom given the cooperative discussion from activity #2 (this work will be done by a post-doc under the guidance of the Co-PIs and collaborators);
- Implementation of the pilot survey design during the second year of the project using industry funding.
The successful candidate will receive postdoctoral research appointments at AFSC and Alaska Pacific University. First year funding is provided by AFSC via NRC. Supplemental funding for travel between Seattle and Anchorage Alaska to attend fisheries management meetings and work with the University co-advisor during the first year and full funding for second year research, including deployment of a pilot survey on industry vessels are provided by the FAST Lab.
Mark Zimmermann, MS, NOAA-AFSC, Seattle, WA
Stan Kotwicki, NOAA-AFSC, Seattle, WA
Pete Hulson, PhD, NOAA-AFSC Auke Bay Labs, Juneau, AK.
Prof. Brad Harris, PhD, Alaska Pacific University- FAST Lab, Anchorage, AK
Collaborating Content Experts:
Jim Thorson, PhD, NOAA-AFSC Seattle (statistics and modeling)
Curry Cunningham, PhD, Alaska Pacific University (stock assessment modeling)
Suresh Sethi, PhD, Cornell University (statistics and modeling)
cooperative research; fishery stock assessment; spatial analysis; Alaska; rockfish