Between a Rock and Soft Bottom: Evaluating the Use of Rod and Reel to Monitor Tautog in Southern Massachusetts
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Between a Rock and Soft Bottom: Evaluating the Use of Rod and Reel to Monitor Tautog in Southern Massachusetts

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  • Journal Title:
    Marine and Coastal Fisheries
  • Description:
    Fishery‐independent trawl surveys are commonly used to monitor the status and trends of marine finfish species. Although bottom trawls are powerful sampling tools, they are limited to surveying relatively featureless bottom habitats and, as a result, may not accurately represent the trends in the relative abundance of fish species associated with structured and complex habitats. We evaluated the feasibility of rod and reel as an alternative fishery‐independent survey methodology to monitor the abundance of Tautog Tautoga onitis, a recreationally and commercially important structure‐dwelling reef fish, in the coastal waters of Massachusetts. Results suggest that a rod‐and‐reel survey is an effective, low‐cost approach to monitor the structured habitats inaccessible to trawl gears. Using a generalized linear mixed modeling framework we were able to identify important predictor variables influencing catch rates; variables that would be important in the design of a continued long‐term monitoring program and in the standardization of these data as an index of relative abundance. Variables retained in the top model included year, month, depth strata, bottom water temperature, tidal phase, fishing vessel, angler avidity, and random effects that accounted for the repeated measures survey design. Power analyses revealed that the directed rod‐and‐reel survey had far greater power to detect changes in Tautog abundance than the extant trawl survey, which had very little power to detect even large shifts in abundance. The results of this pilot study suggest that the continued use of rod and reel as a complementary survey tool would be warranted to further compare the trends in Tautog abundance generated using the two different survey methodologies, to reduce uncertainty in the stock assessment, and to improve the information upon which Tautog management is predicated in Massachusetts waters.
  • Source:
    Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science 10:550–562, 2018
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  • Rights Information:
    CC BY
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