The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just awarded New York Sea Grant and Fisheries Specialist David B. MacNeill a USGS Great Lakes Science Center Certificate of Appreciation for a November 2011 trawling workshop. The event attracted 35 American and Canadian researchers and research vessel personnel representing all five Great Lakes.
In November 2011 New York Sea Grant (NYSG) and the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated to bring acclaimed expertise in marine trawl design to Central New York. MacNeill co-organized the workshop with USGS Research Fishery Biologist Dr. Maureen Walsh.
USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station Director Dr. Brian F. Lantry said, "This workshop was the best and most useful I have ever attended. The numerous emails USGS has received attest to participants feeling the same. This type of work makes a realistic, practical contribution to science."
Collecting fish samples with large underwater nets (trawls) provides essential information for understanding food webs and managing fisheries resources.
The three-day intensive workshop at the Cornell University Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake was an unprecedented opportunity for a marine-Great Lakes exchange with Dr. Paul Winger and his internationally respected fishing gear and marine trawl evaluation team of George Legge, Philip Walsh and Tara Perry from the Memorial University of Newfoundland's (MUN) Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources.
The world's largest flume tank at MUN simulates real-world conditions. A week's worth of testing trawl models there can save months of work on the water with full-size nets.
"We were pleased to share what we know about fishing gear design and how to increase both trawl and fuel efficiencies, reduce ecological impacts, and obtain the quality of data needed for fisheries science and development," Winger said.
The workshop included numerous hands-on trawl exhibits and classroom time on design configurations, hydrodynamics, fish behavior impact on catch efficiency, environmental variability, and new opportunities for evaluating trawl designs for use in the Great Lakes
Workshop participant Gary Czypinski, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Ashland, Wisconsin, said, "Trawling is a very good tool for early detection of new invasive species. I came hoping to gain an edge for catching Asian carp which are very successful in evading a bottom trawl."
Spring-fall trawls have been cooperatively conducted by U.S. federal and state and Canadian provincial agencies on Lake Ontario since the 1970s.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Research Biologist Mike Connerton of the NYSDEC Seth Green fisheries research vessel at Cape Vincent said, "The mussels in Lake Ontario have forced us to change the gear we use. Understanding net performance and the latest technology for evaluating our gears will help us obtain the best data possible."
New York Sea Grant Director Jim Ammerman noted, "This important workshop is a product of the National Sea Grant office support for the Lake Ontario team of the Great Lakes Regional Research Network."
New York Sea Grant Associate Director Dr. Kathy Bunting-Howarth commented, "This workshop is a fine example of what Extension is all about -- transferring knowledge and empowering people to use science to its best result."
A Great Lakes Regional Research Network grant to NYSG funded the trawl design workshop.