NMFS Solicits Proposals for MAFMC 2013 Research Set-Aside Program

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced that it is accepting proposals under the Mid-Atlantic Council's Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program for research activities to be conducted in 2013.  Applications must be received by NMFS on or before 5 p.m. EST on April 2, 2012. 

The Council, in coordination with NMFS and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, may set aside up to 3 percent of the total allowable landings (TAL) in certain Mid-Atlantic fisheries to be used for research endeavors.  The RSA program provides a mechanism to fund research and compensate vessel owners through the sale of fish harvested under the research quota.  Vessels participating in an approved research project may be authorized by the NMFS Northeast Regional Administrator to harvest and land species in excess of any imposed trip limit or during fishery closures.  Landings from such trips are sold to generate funds that help defray the costs associated with the approved research projects. No Federal funds are provided for research under this notification.

NMFS is soliciting proposals for research activities concerning the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Loligo squid, Illex squid, Atlantic mackerel, butterfish, river herring, bluefish, and tilefish fisheries.  NMFS and the Council will give priority to funding proposals addressing the research needs as follows:

2013 Research Priority List

Spanning Multiple Species

  • Conduct fishery independent surveys for all Mid-Atlantic species, especially in the near shore zone (as provided by the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program-NEAMAP).

Interactions Between Loligo Squid, Butterfish, Atlantic Mackerel & River Herring (alosine)

  • Evaluate potential improvements to at-sea observer and port sampling procedures and investigate accuracy and precision of at-sea observer and port sampling based estimates of catches of butterfish and alosine species in the Loligo fishery and alosine species in the mackerel fishery.
  • Test gear modifications (in addition to mesh size) and/or alternative gear types (e.g., jigging) in the Loligo squid fishery to reduce bycatch of butterfish and other species.
  • Study mortality rates of Loligo squid that pass through trawl mesh to evaluate effects of mesh regulations on fishing mortality of Loligo by size/age.
  • Evaluate use of videography to document Loligo catches without any or minimal butterfish bycatch.
  • During the spring, conduct exploratory sampling for SMB species in deep water beyond the range of the current NEFSC spring survey.

Summer Flounder

  • Evaluate the length, weight, and age compositions of landed and discarded fish in the summer flounder fisheries (recreational and commercial) by sex.   Focus age sampling on summer flounder 24 inches or larger in total length.


  • Evaluate amount and length, weight, and age compositions of discards from the commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Collect size and age composition of the fisheries by gear type and statistical area.
  • Develop a pilot program to determine the optimum sample size for a coastwide age-length key, and test the feasibility of state-level sampling combined with regional-level sampling consistent with the recommendations of the 2011 ASMFC Bluefish Ageing Workshop.  
  • Initiate fishery-dependent and independent sampling of offshore populations of bluefish during the winter months (consider migration, seasonal fisheries, and unique selectivity patterns resulting in a bimodal partial recruitment pattern; consider if the migratory pattern results in several recruitment events).
  • Develop bluefish index surveys (proof of concept); including abundance/biomass trend estimates for the offshore populations in winter.

Black Sea Bass

  • Validate methods used to age black sea bass (scales vs. otoliths).
  • Perform studies focused on life history and reproductive behaviors, such as changes in sex ratio as a function of age and size or the evaluation of the sizes of territories in relation to mating or reproduction.
  • Increase age sampling across all components of the commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Increase sea sampling to verify information from commercial logbooks toward providing better estimates of discards.
  • Develop fishery independent indices.


  • Develop fishery independent indices for scup ages 2+.
  • Estimate the fishery components used to calculate scup mortality (commercial and recreational landings, and discards).
  • Expand age sampling of scup from commercial and recreational catches.  Focus age sampling on scup 10 inches or larger in total length.

Illex squid

  • Determine size, age-at-maturity, and growth parameters for Illex squid.


  • Investigate the effects of hook size and other fishing practices (e.g., bait type and soak time) on catchability of tilefish by size in the longline fishery.

Complete Details and to Apply

For complete details and information on how to apply, please visit the Grants.gov web site (http://www.grants.gov).  Click on the 'Grant Search' Quick Link on the upper right-hand corner of the page under FOR APPLICANTS and then search for Funding Opportunity Number  NOAA-NMFS-NEFSC-2013-2003258

After clicking on the '2013 Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside' link under Opportunity Title, click on the 'Full Announcement' link in the middle of the bar at the top of the page.  On the next page click on the 'Full Announcement'  next to the Description 'Federal Funding Opportunity' to open or save the full text of the Announcement (19 pages) to your hard drive.