NMFS Solicits Proposals for MAFMC 2014 Research Set-Aside Program

March 12, 2013

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 2014.  Applications must be received by NMFS on or before 5 p.m. EDT on May 6, 2013.

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 that address Mid-Atlantic RSA research priorities concerning  summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, longfin squid, Illex squid, Atlantic mackerel, butterfish, river herring, bluefish, and spiny dogfish.  NMFS and the Council will give priority to funding proposals addressing the research needs as follows:

Top Priority

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). 

Additional Priorities

Interactions Between Longfin Squid, Butterfish, Atlantic Mackerel & River Herring

  1. Test gear modifications (in addition to mesh size), videography and/or alternative gear types (e.g., jigging) in the longfin squid fishery to reduce bycatch of butterfish and other species.
  2. Study mortality rates of longfin squid that pass through trawl mesh to evaluate effects of mesh regulations on fishing mortality of longfin squid by size and age.
  3. During the spring, conduct exploratory sampling for squid, Atlantic mackerel, and butterfish in deep water beyond the range of the current NEFSC spring bottom trawl survey.
  4. Investigate potential for industry surveys to support butterfish or squid assessments.
  5. Investigate mesh size and/or gear technologies (e.g., grates or separators) to reduce retention of small Atlantic mackerel and river herring in the Atlantic mackerel fishery.
  6. Explore spatial distribution of stocks relative to the mixing of the northern and southern "contingents" of Atlantic mackerel (i.e. tagging, genetics, chemical assay, and/or microchemistry of otoliths).
  7. Exploration of bottom trawl catchability characteristics for Atlantic mackerel.
  8. Participate with industry in investigating the contemporary overlap between the surveyed Atlantic mackerel stock area, Atlantic mackerel commercial fishery, and Atlantic mackerel distribution, and explore historical databases for the same purpose to better understand interpretation of Atlantic mackerel abundance indices (survey, catch per unit effort).

Summer Flounder

  1. Evaluate the length, weight, and age compositions of landed and discarded fish in the summer flounder fisheries (recreational and commercial) by sex.  Focus should be placed on age sampling of summer flounder 24 inches or larger in total length, using paired hard part samples (i.e., scales, and when possible, otoliths).
  2. Evaluate gear modifications to reduce discard mortality in the recreational fishery.


  1. Evaluate the amount and length, weight, and age compositions of discards from the commercial and recreational fisheries.
  2. 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).

Black Sea Bass

  1. 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.
  2. Increase sea sampling to verify information from commercial logbooks toward providing better estimates of discards (with emphasis on pot trap and hook and line gear).
  3. Evaluate and, if appropriate, continue a fixed gear survey of black sea bass similar to the one used for scup.


  1. Estimate the fishery components used to calculate scup mortality for commercial and recreational landings and discards (with emphasis on discards).
  2. Expand age sampling of scup from commercial and recreational catches.  Focus age sampling on scup 10 inches or larger in total length.
  3. Review and evaluate existing fishery independent indices  for scup.

Illex Squid

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

Spiny Dogfish

  1. Investigate the effects of stock structure or distribution, sex ratio, and size of pups on birth rate and first year survival of pups;
  2. Continue large scale (international) tagging programs, including conventional external tags, data storage tags, and satellite pop-up tags, to help clarify movement patterns and migration rates;
  3. Investigate the distribution of spiny dogfish beyond the depth range of current NEFSC bottom trawl surveys, possibly by using experimental research or supplemental surveys;
  4. Continue aging studies for spiny dogfish age structures (e.g., fins, spines) obtained from all sampling programs (include additional age validation and age structure exchanges), and conduct an aging workshop for spiny dogfish, encouraging participation by NEFSC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, other interested state agencies, academia, and other international investigators with an interest in dogfish aging (US and Canada Pacific Coast, International Council for the Exploration of the Seas); and
  5. Evaluate ecosystem effects on spiny dogfish acting through changes in spiny dogfish vital rates (e.g., natural mortality, fecundity, size/age at maturity, etc.).

How To Apply

For complete details and information on how to apply, please visit the Grants.gov web site (http://www.grants.gov).  Click on 'Grant Search' under the Quick Links box on the upper right-hand corner of the page under FOR APPLICANTS and then 'Search by Funding Opportunity Number:'   NOAA-NMFS-NEFSC-2014-2003636

After clicking on the '2014 Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside (RSA)' link under Opportunity Title, click on the 'Full Announcement' link in the middle of the bar at the top of the page.  The next page will allow you to get the  'Full Announcement'  as a PDF or ZIP 'File Type' to open or save the full text of the Full Announcement (20 pages) to your hard drive.