Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Assessment and Management: Incorporating Nearshore Surveys into the Fishery Management Framework

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  • The Pacific coast groundfish fishery is a diverse, important and lucrative commercial and recreational fishery. Part of this fishery’s monitoring process includes regular fishery-independent surveys for stock assessment. Although these fishery-independent surveys are cost-effective, they are susceptible to scientific uncertainty, and they do not currently sample in nearshore (water depth < 55 meters) soft-sediment habitats. The NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center, in collaboration with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and Oregon State University, is currently sampling young-of-the-year (YOY) groundfishes and other small demersal fishes, along the Newport Hydrographic (NH) Line off the central Oregon coast. A potential use of this survey is to complement the current fishery-independent survey used to inform stock assessments. First, two questions must be addressed: 1) what can nearshore sampling provide to groundfish science and management, and 2) is it practical to incorporate additional nearshore sampling into the current management framework. Answering these questions would help determine whether adding nearshore sampling would improve fishery management. For the purposes of this thesis, “nearshore” is defined as the marine habitats along the continental shelf with water depths shallower than 55 meters. In this analysis, data from bottom trawl and beam trawl surveys were compared within an overlapping nearshore region in order to characterize the juvenile groundfish populations along the continental shelf of Oregon. Examining fish assemblages and environmental variables from both surveys, I found significant differences in fish assemblages, oxygen, temperature, and salinity based on depth, season, and year. Exploring the regulatory framework of the Pacific coast groundfish fishery showed that adding nearshore monitoring to fishery-independent survey designs would be difficult, but it is possible. I also found that the addition of nearshore monitoring would benefit the future designations of groundfish Essential Fish Habitat by providing environmental and biological monitoring of sensitive nursery habitats. By comparing fish community composition and habitat between these surveys and examining current management frameworks, I addressed the overall question of whether monitoring of nearshore habitat would provide a more representative sample of groundfish communities and ecosystem indicators and if it is feasible to do so.
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  • NSF NRT Fellowship: Risk and Uncertainty Quantification in Marine Science
  • Geoffrey R. Dimmick Memorial Scholarship
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  • Ongoing Research
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  • 2019-04-04 to 2020-05-05



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