Toward Dynamic Ocean Management: Fisheries assessment and climate projections informed by community developed habitat models based on dynamic coastal oceanography

Josh T Kohut1, John Manderson2, Laura J Nazzaro1, Vincent S Saba3, Grace Saba4, Jonathan A Hare5, Enrique N Curchitser6, Peter Moore7, Brad Seibel8 and Greg DiDomenico9, (1)Rutgers University, Marine and Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, (2)NOAA NMFS, (3)NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Princeton, NJ, United States, (4)Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System and Rutgers University, Department of Marine and Coastal Science, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, (5)NOAA NMFS, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (6)Rutgers University New Brunswick, Department of Environmental Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States, (7)MARACOOS, United States, (8)University of South Florida St. Petersburg, St Petersburg, FL, United States, (9)Garden State Seafood Association
Through a multidisciplinary study group of experts in marine ecology, physical oceanography and stock assessment from the fishing industry, government and academia we developed a method to explicitly account for shifting habitat distributions in fish population assessments. We used data from field surveys throughout the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to develop a parametric thermal niche model for an important short-lived pelagic forage fish, Atlantic Butterfish. This niche model was coupled to a hindcast of daily bottom water temperature derived from a regional numerical ocean model in order to project daily thermal habitat suitability over the last 40 years. This ecological hindcast was used to estimate the proportion of thermal habitat suitability available on the U.S. Northeast Shelf that was sampled on fishery-independent surveys, accounting for the relative motions of thermal habitat and the trajectory of sampling on the survey. The method and habitat based estimates of availability was integrated into the catchability estimate used to scale population size in the butterfish stock assessment model accepted by the reviewers of the 59th NEFSC stock assessment review, as well as the mid-Atlantic Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee. The contribution of the availability estimate (along with an estimate of detectability) allowed for the development of fishery reference points, a change in stock status from unknown to known, and the establishment of a directed fishery with an allocation of 20,000 metric tons of quota. This presentation will describe how a community based workgroup utilized ocean observing technologies combined with ocean models to better understand the physical ocean that structures marine ecosystems. Using these approaches we will discuss opportunities to inform ecological hindcasts and climate projections with mechanistic models that link species-specific physiology to climate-based thermal scenarios.