2006-2008 Research Projects: Marine Aquaculture and Fisheries
Project: Impacts of Stocked Red Drum on the Recreational Fishery of Murrell’s Inlet: Data Collection, Analysis and Development of Assessment Tools
Ted Smith, S.C. Department of Natural Resources
The investigators are entering Phase III of their research on stock enhancement of red drum Sciaenops ocellatus – the premier recreational sporting fish in South Carolina. This effort continues its multi-disciplinary team approach to address an increasingly important research issue – how to restore declining fishery stocks and maintain ecosystem community health. As red drum is one of the primary target species for both instate and out-of-state anglers, the state of South Carolina is actively involved in a program to evaluate the use of hatchery-produced juveniles as a management tool to increase population abundance. The emphasis of the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is to rebuild the spawning stock biomass by increasing escapement of juveniles. The SC stocking project received national acclaim by the American Fisheries Society as the 1997 Outstanding Sport Fish Restoration Project and also received regional honors as the recipient of 2003 Palmetto Vision Award.
Results to date have shown that stocked juveniles can increase local abundance and that size at stocking may be critical in impacting abundance changes, depending on estuarine system. The investigators will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of stocking red drum in a heavily fished estuary (Murrells Inlet), and determine if this management approach restores what was once a depleted fishery. Specific project objectives are: (1) complete fishery collections for 2004 and 2005 (year classes) stocking events; (2) conduct population estimates of legal size fish with assistance from local anglers; (3) refine genetic identification approach and compare to OTC marking technique; (4) conduct studies to evaluate use of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to identify OTC marked fish; (5) document recruitment of stocked fish into the adult population; (6) analyze data and interpret findings on impacts of stocked fish on abundance; (7) perform public outreach activities, educate and train students; and (8) disseminate findings to scientific community and prepare required reports.
The researchers also will study genetic and chemical methods of identifying stocked fish. The research team is also elucidating the relationship between stocking size and contribution to the population. The results of the study will provide fishery managers with population size; stocking densities; optimum release size; movement data; carrying capacity; and recruitment to adult population. Data which will enable managers to more effectively manage the fishery.
Contact for Questions
Ted Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Project: Genetic Estimates of Larval Sources of Gag Mycteroperca microlepis in the Southeastern United States
The gag (Mycteroperca microlepis) is one of the most important commercial and recreational fisheries in the southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico. This study responds to questions about the efficacy of creating spatial or temporal marine reserves of spawning aggregations of gag and other groupers in order to ensure their long-term sustainability. In order to make such a determination, research is needed regarding the degree of dispersal among spawning aggregation habits of gag grouper. The major objectives are: (1) to test the hypothesis that 2005 spawning aggregations in the southeastern US (i.e., Florida vs. South Carolina vs. North Carolina) are genetically distinct; (2) to test the hypothesis that postlarvae entering S.C. and N.C. estuaries were generated by spawning aggregations offshore S.C. and N.C. in 2005; and, (3) to provide a preliminary test of the hypothesis that there is temporal genetic structure by comparing the genetic diversity of 2005 spawning adults, 2005 S.C. postlarvae, and a 20-year-old archived collection of S.C. postlarvae. We also propose to use these data to estimate the effective population size (Ne) of gag in the southeastern US.
Study results will provide insight to fisheries managers in South Carolina and with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council on whether spawning aggregations of gag in the southeastern United States waters (i.e., eastern Florida into North Carolina) should be considered a panmictic single population or a series of relatively independent aggregations. The implications of these alternatives for marine reserve design are profound. In particular, if evidence shows that postlarvae entering South Carolina waters were generated from spawning aggregations offshore South Carolina, this might provide impetus for protecting local aggregations. Evidence that South Carolina postlarvae are produced by non-South Carolina aggregations would support broad protection measures throughout the southeastern U.S. Atlantic shelf.
Contact for Questions
Erik Sotka (email@example.com)