Killer Whales ( Orcinus orca ), Victoria, Canada      photo credit: Caroline Good

Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), Victoria, Canada      photo credit: Caroline Good

Evaluation of Fishing Effort in the U.S. Atlantic EEZ - Duke University/Pew Charitable Trusts (ongoing)

Scores of fisheries operate along the U.S. east coast yet no comprehensive examination of the geographic or temporal extent of these fisheries exists for this region.  Our assessment focuses on investigating trends in the spatial and temporal characteristics of fishing effort in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.  Currently, most spatially explicit fishery data is collected through Vessel Trip Reports (VTR), Vessel Logbook Systems (VLS) and the National Observer Program.  However, this data lacks standardization and common spatial units of measurement confounding aggregation and quantification.  Additionally, spatially explicit effort data is not collected for all fisheries operating in U.S. waters. This project strives to provide an up to date assessment of fishing activity using every available data source and standardizing effort metrics across fisheries. 

Questions to be addressed include the following: How has the geographic extent of fishing activity changed over time? What regions are subjected to the heaviest fishing pressure? Are there areas characterized by sparse fishing effort? What are the temporal patterns in fishing effort? How has the type of fishing gears employed changed over time?  

Assessment of North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Distribution and Movement in the Mid-Atlantic Region - National Marine Fisheries Service (ongoing)

Despite decades of protection, the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) has failed to recover, primarily due to interactions with fishing gear and ship strikes (Clapham et al. 1999, Kraus et al. 2005). Right whales range along the U.S. east coast, foraging year round in the Gulf of Maine while a subset of the population travels to the South Atlantic Bight each winter to calve. The distribution and habitat requirements of the right whale are well studied on both the northern foraging grounds (Khan et al. 2011) and the southern calving grounds (Keller et al. 2006, Keller et al. 2012). There remains, however, a significant gap in our understanding of their migration corridor along the mid-Atlantic seaboard of the U.S. (Schick et al., 2008).  The timing, distribution and use of the mid-Atlantic region remains poorly understood and impedes management of this critically endangered species.

This project seeks to provide a comprehensive and up to date profile of North Atlantic right whale distribution and activity in the mid-Atlantic region. Using existing data sources, we are examining the distribution, relative density, habitat-use patterns, and movements of right whales in the region. Based on the results of these analyses we will recommend best practices for future monitoring of right whales in this region and strategies to mitigate human interactions.

Project Development - Lenfest Ocean Program (ongoing)

The Lenfest Ocean Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts provides funding for policy relevant scientific research in the marine environment.  The program also strives to communicate research findings to decsision makers and stakeholders in an effort to infuse management processes with the latest scientific information.   We spearhead the development of novel marine research projects and provide guidance on the awarding of research grants.  Working closely with marine researchers, we undertake investigations to widen the geographical scope of projects and increase the international profile of the Lenfest portfolio.  In addition, where appropriate, expert advice was provided on a variety of marine resource conservation issues.