Sustainable Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture (2014-2017)

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Project Type: 
Extension
Project Number: 
A/EXT-3

Participants:

Gabriela Bradt N.H. Sea Grant Extension Specialist for Commercial Fisheries
Erik Chapman N.H. Sea Grant Extension Specialist for Commercial Fisheries
Michael Chambers N.H. Sea Grant Extension Specialist for Marine Aquaculture
Situation: 

The total economic activity generated from New Hampshire’s commercial fishing industry is currently estimated at $106 million annually. It supports 5,000 full- and part-time jobs. According to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) logs, 180 New Hampshire boats had commercial fishing permits in 2009. However, the number of boats dropped by about 50% from 2009 to 2010, while the value of New Hampshire’s landings decreased by approximately 40%.

Three times as much catch-share allocation (quotas) was sold out of state than came into N.H. (U.S. EDA, 2011). This is partly because N.H. does not have a processing or distribution network for its locally caught fish, outside of farmers’ markets, community supported fisheries and a few retail local fish markets. As a result, the costs of handling fish (ice, transportation, etc.) are disproportionately higher in N.H. than surrounding states.

To add further stress to the situation, recent federal regulations have contributed to a reduction in New Hampshire’s total catch and its fleet size. The Northeast Groundfish Fishery transition to sector management imposes a total allowable catch or annual catch limit (ACL) to manage the fishery. Each Groundfish Sector, of which there are two in N.H., is allocated a share of this ACL at the beginning of the season as an annual catch entitlement (ACE) and must manage the fishing of this ACE throughout the season on a real time, day-to-day basis.

Adjusting to the new management structure has been particularly challenging for the smaller day-boats that make up the state’s fleet. According to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Maine and Massachusetts groundfish fisheries increased their revenue under sector management, while N.H. revenues declined by one-third during the first year of the new system. N.H.’s drop in revenues largely reflects the disproportionate losses in income realized by smaller boats, which dominate the state’s fleet, compared to larger boats. In addition, smaller sectors (like those in N.H.) face unique challenges relative to larger sectors, especially relating to lower economies of scale and capitalization, but smaller sectors also have unique opportunities. In particular, fishermen and sector managers from smaller sectors have close connections with their local fish dealers and shore-side businesses, providing opportunities to work together more cohesively to account for landings, to brand and trace local landings through the supply chain, and to develop new local markets.

New Hampshire lobstermen face similar challenges, with rising costs of fuel and dramatically plummeting boat prices, which fell 15% in 2009 compared with the average price between 2006 and 2009. Boat prices for lobster in 2012 fell to their lowest prices in recent memory.

Unlike wild fisheries, seafood aquaculture has been identified as a U.S. economic sector with great potential for growth. Currently, global populations have risen to above seven billion and as a result, new protein sources will need to be developed. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization predicts a 40mmt shortfall in seafood availability by 2030. It is widely believed that ocean aquaculture has the best potential to meet future protein demands. As the rest of the world expands marine aquaculture production, the U.S. continues to purchase seafood from other countries at a rate of $10 billion per year. Although the U.S. is the third largest consumer of seafood in the world behind China and Japan, we have no legislation in place for farming the open ocean. At present, the U.S. imports 85% of its seafood, half of which is aquaculture products. Seafood produced overseas does not always adhere to strict oversight on farm practices or environmental standards. As U.S. consumers demand safe and sustainable seafood, the U.S. needs to develop responsibly managed, environmentally safe and sustainable aquaculture.

Given the challenges facing N.H. fishermen and lobstermen, finfish and shellfish aquaculture offer a business alternative for the small vessel owner to either transition from wild harvest fisheries to farming or to subsidize loss of income resulting from limitations placed on individual landings. Recently, the state permitting process was streamlined through N.H. Fish and Game to encourage shellfish production in state waters. Since these changes, oyster production has tripled in the Great Bay Estuary. Over six million oysters are in bottom culture with a crop value worth approximately $3.4 million. To support ecologically sustainable production, N.H. Sea Grant continues to pursue the development and demonstration of multi-trophic aquaculture systems that combine macro-algae, shellfish and finfish culture. Permitting has since been initiated at six sites for the N.H. Commercial Fishermen’s Association to focus on integrating the production of steelhead trout and mussels on a single float platform where the mussels can bio-filter nutrients from the fish waste.

One of the greatest questions challenging effective fisheries management today is how best to inform and design management with available science and management tools. For example, scientific uncertainty and the inflexibility of standard management mechanisms to accommodate emerging understanding of stock complexity, the importance of spatial scale, climate change, and dynamic and complex ecosystem relationships challenges scientists, law-makers and fishermen to find reliable means to reach goals of sustainable marine fisheries. N.H. Sea Grant plays an important role as a convener and facilitator supporting environmental and social science research and bringing researchers, managers and fishery stakeholders to the table to discuss critical issues, develop research priorities, design policy and establish best practices.

The programming of fisheries and aquaculture extension efforts in N.H. are, in some cases, focused on both local and regional goals because the fate of fishing communities are linked to regional trends and processes.

Goals: 

Overall Goal: To support responsible stewardship of marine resources through a healthy domestic seafood industry that harvests, produces, processes and markets seafood responsibly to meet public demand.

Sub-Goals:

1.     N.H. fishermen harvest wild seafood in ways that minimize environmental impacts and support long-term marine ecosystem health.

2.     N.H. fishermen and entrepreneurs develop aquaculture practices that are both economically viable and environmentally sound.

 

3.     N.H. fishermen and related business­es develop information management systems (reporting, sector management, fisherman allocation management, business management) that enable fishermen to improve access to fish and that enable strong profitable business management practices.

4.     The N.H. fishing community develops market outlets that return a value to fishing boats and related businesses sufficient to support strong, resilient fishing busi­nesses and communities.

5.     The N.H. fishing community is a part of an integrated fisheries policy, science and manage­ment system from which sustainable management of marine fisheries emerges and supports a healthy and resilient fishing community in the face of challenges presented by dynamic and unpredictable conditions, including climate change.

Objectives: 

New England fishermen have access to objective and scientific assessment of five to 10 alternatives that may improve their fuel and operational efficiencies (e.g., conservation gear).

Fishermen and marine experts exchange information and expertise through three to five additional opportunities (created and supported by NHSG) to discuss their experiences exploring ways to improve operational and energy efficiencies.

Peer audiences from programs outside of the Northeast Region will learn relevant information and exchange expertise by networking with Sea Grant programs, academic institutions and environmental organizations through four to six programs and workshops hosted or presented by N.H. Sea Grant.

Fishermen (five to eight commercial) and the interested public understand the effects/impacts of marine debris and will have four to six programs and workshops to participate in detection, assessment and removal of marine debris from ocean and land-based sites.

One hundred program participants per year will increase their awareness of finfish, shellfish and multi-trophic aquaculture systems and permitting requirements.

One to two new procedures per year will be adopted by regulating agencies that will improve their capacity to process permitting requests to initiate aquaculture practices in N.H.

At least two new aquaculture businesses per year will start growing a locally produced product from the ocean.

Fishermen, dealers or sector managers adopt one to two new software platforms and/or technologies that enable fishermen to improve their access to fish and implement more profitable business practices.

Fishermen, dealers, fisheries managers and/or sector managers participate in one to two initiatives to streamline data-flow for the benefit of fisheries management and fishing businesses. 

N.H. businesses develop two to four new market outlets that redirect an increasing proportion of locally harvested/produced seafood (increasing by 3% per year) and improve the price received by boats compared to baseline pricing structures (auction prices, regional boat prices), thereby improving the resiliency of the N.H. fishing industry.

There is an improved understanding and awareness of population and ecosystem dynamics among scientists, managers and fishermen.

There is increased awareness and dialogue among scientists, managers and fishermen regarding the effects of climate change and potential steps for adaptation to climate effects on fisheries.

Accomplishments: 

2015

N.H. Sea Grant-supported seafood business increases profits for fishermen and sustains jobs

N.H. Sea Grant extension specialists support N.H. fishermen and consumers who formed New Hampshire Community Seafood, a business that processes and delivers locally harvested seafood. The program expanded to sell over 40,000 pounds of seafood in 2015, bringing over $10,000 more profit to fishermen than they would receive from regional seafood auctions, supported two jobs and led to formation of a second seafood business.
Relevance: At a local scale, fishermen in the Gulf of Maine struggle to find markets that support their businesses. Traditional seafood markets often pay the highest prices for species that have the strictest limits on how much fishermen are allowed to catch (e.g., Atlantic cod) and the lowest prices for more abundant species (e.g., spiny dogfish). In addition, fishermen are able to catch and sell fewer pounds of marketable species due to reductions in how much they can catch in response to disappointing stock assessments.
Response: In 2013, N.H. fishermen and seafood consumers organized New Hampshire Community Seafood, which processes and delivers seafood to individuals, restaurants and other seafood buyers in the region. N.H. fisheries extension specialists, one of whom has an advisory position on the Board of Directors, supported this effort extensively. The program pays fishermen 25 cents more per pound than they would receive from regional seafood auctions.
Results: In 2015, the cooperative expanded to sell over 40,000 pounds of local seafood to individual buyers, restaurants, fish markets and to a local hospital, resulting in $10,000 in increased profits for fishermen. The business supported one full-time manager for the entire year and a second employee for eight months of the year. The success of the program led to the formation of a second local seafood business by a former N.H. Sea Grant intern called New England Fishmongers.

N.H.'s expanding aquaculture industry creates businesses and jobs

With assistance from N.H. Sea Grant, oyster aquaculture and aquaculture that incorporates trout, mussels and kelp on the same platform continue to expand in N.H., creating businesses and jobs, and building a sustainable seafood industry in New England.
Relevance: Sea Grant emphasizes the importance of building a safe and sustainable domestic seafood supply. This is especially significant since wild capture fisheries have plateaued at less than 100 million ton per year since the 1990s. In addition, fishery management measures have greatly decreased bag and size limits, making it difficult for fishermen to stay in business.
Response: New Hampshire Sea Grant has aided fishermen, entrepreneurs and students with state permitting and culture methods for marine aquaculture. Species grown locally include oysters, blue mussels, steelhead trout and sugar kelp. Funds were awarded to UNH and N.H. Sea Grant to design, build and test an open ocean, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture platform which incorporates the culture of multiple species (trout, mussels and kelp) on the same platform. When in close proximity, the mussels and kelp extract excess nutrients produced by the fish, benefiting the ecosystem. This type of small-scale, environment-friendly aquaculture is well suited for fishing communities and seafood business operators in New England.
Results: In 2015, oyster aquaculture in N.H. increased from 14 to 19 sites covering 47 acres. Oyster sales doubled to $207,000 with an expected doubling again in 2016. There are about 6.7 million oysters growing, with a net value of over $4.5 million. The integrated multi-species aquaculture demonstration site used by UNH and N.H. Sea Grant to train fishermen on aquaculture produced $14,000 in revenue and provided over 2000 pounds of mussel seed to a mussel farm. These mussels will be ready for market in 2016. In 2015, with assistance from N.H. Sea Grant, aquaculture efforts in the state created three new businesses and sustained 13, created three new jobs, and continues to employ 24 people full- or part-time.

Expansion of shellfish aquaculture in N.H. provides increased benefits to the Great Bay Estuary ecosystem in 2015

The shellfish aquaculture industry spawned over the years in the Great Bay Estuary with very direct N.H. Sea Grant guidance is providing fresh and local seafood to the region and helping area fishermen make a living while also contributing $1.5 million in services to the estuarine environment by removing excess nutrients from the estuary.
Relevance: Over the past few years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the impaired water quality of the Great Bay Estuary, particularly on the need to reduce nutrient inputs. One element of this has been a concern that aquaculture development in the area would exacerbate the problem.
Response: N.H. Sea Grant has been working for many years to help develop an aquaculture industry in the region, both to assure a supply of quality seafood and to help local commercial fishermen find ways to earn a living while remaining on the water. Various studies have shown that shellfish remove nutrients, including phosphorous, carbon and nitrogen, from their environment 24/7 through their filter feeding. Because of this, N.H. Sea Grant has been particularly interested in developing shellfish aquaculture in the estuary, both in the form of oyster farms and multi-trophic aquaculture, which combines fish, seaweed and blue mussels.
Results: A NOAA Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment study performed during 2014 validated N.H. Sea Grant's approach to reducing nutrient inputs into the Bay. The study placed a value of $1.1-1.3 million on the ecosystem services that the current level of shellfish aquaculture provided the Great Bay Estuary by removing excess nutrients from the estuary, and further estimated that the value could triple with future expansion. In 2015, over 100,000 additional oysters were placed into bottom cages. Based on the 2014 study, this increase in filter feeding oysters raises the value of the ecosystem services from shellfish aquaculture to $1.5 million.

N.H. fisheries specialist teaches innovative sustainable fisheries course, helps form fisheries and aquaculture club
A N.H. Sea Grant extension specialist developed and taught a unique undergraduate course on sustainable marine fisheries that provides an innovative, experience-based learning experience where students are taught by fishermen, NOAA scientists and managers, and also helped form a sustainable fisheries and aquaculture club for undergraduates whose members take part in experiential learning opportunities with fisheries and aquaculture researchers and industry members.
Relevance: Undergraduates have limited opportunities to learn about the many dimensions involved in the search for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
Response: A N.H. fisheries extension specialist developed and taught an innovative course in 2015 at Shoals Marine Lab, an undergraduate-focused marine laboratory located on one of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and N.H. The course introduces undergraduates to at-sea experiences with four different types of fishermen while also giving them the opportunity to learn from NOAA fisheries scientists, managers, Fisheries Management Council staff, aquaculture specialists and seafood marketers. Separately, the fisheries extension specialist helped form and currently advises an undergraduate Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Club that pairs interested students with research and industry-based experiential opportunities for learning in both fisheries- and aquaculture-related programs.
Results: Four undergraduates took the four credit course at Shoals Marine Lab and 35 undergraduates have joined the University of New Hampshire Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Club. Among students from the Shoals Marine Lab course, one student has since been accepted to UNH's graduate program in Marine Biology and a second was instrumental in forming the UNH Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Club. Members of the Club have participated in five different projects led by UNH researchers conducting fisheries and aquaculture research.

Sea vegetable workshop series in N.H. leads to elementary and middle school programming

While N.H. Sea Grant extension staff developed consumer markets for sea vegetables through a series of "Learn and Dine" workshops, interest from the elementary and middle school education sector surfaced, leading N.H. Sea Grant to further develop and execute workshops specifically designed for this age group.
Relevance: With the growing increase in interest and demand for sea vegetables as a food source in New England, and with the precarious situation of New Hampshire fisheries driving the need to find alternative income streams for fishermen, N.H. Sea Grant extension specialists have been working to raise awareness and develop markets for sea vegetables. By partnering with a local chef, N.H. Sea Grant developed a series of workshops aimed at adults, however the response to these workshops was so well received some attendees pressed for the development of programming for a younger audience.
Response: As a direct result of the new sea vegetable workshops developed by N.H. Sea Grant extension staff to increase awareness regarding the ecology and nutritional benefits of sea vegetables, several subsequent workshops tailored to reach elementary and middle school audiences were developed and conducted by N.H. Sea Grant staff. In partnership with an engineer from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, The Girl Scouts of America, University of N.H. Ocean Discovery Day and a local middle school, children were introduced to seaweeds as a possible food source.
Results: N.H. Sea Grant staff developed and conducted five workshops directly tailored to elementary and middle school audiences in 2015. The workshops were well received by all ages and approximately 1740 students were reached as a result of this effort.

Microplastics monitoring on New Hampshire beaches increases awareness and gathers important information

A microplastics monitoring program established by N.H. Sea Grant in partnership with Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation continues to build momentum, increase awareness, and expand its data set in order to get a better understating of the long-term impacts of microplastics on N.H. beaches.
Relevance: Microplastics, pieces of plastic between one and five millimeters in size, are significantly impacting the marine ecosystem on a global scale. These minute pieces of marine litter are growing in concentration in the world's oceans, becoming entrenched in the food web and embedded in the world's beaches. Microplastics pose both environmental hazards and public health problems as the toxicity from leaching chemicals and the accumulation of plastics in the food web increases, potentially affecting coastal communities, marine life, sea birds, beachgoers and tourism.
Response: Since 2013, N.H. Sea Grant and Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation have worked together to establish a citizen science microplastics monitoring program on five of the most recreationally important coastal beaches in N.H. N.H. Sea Grant extension staff developed best management practices for sampling, trained volunteers in sampling methods and data analysis, and created a database to maintain the data. Beaches are sampled monthly from April to October and the samples are processed and the data analyzed with the goal of establishing a long-term data set to better understand the long term-impacts and patterns of microplastic accumulation in N.H.
Results: In 2015, sampling was delayed due to an unusually long winter that affected beach access. From May through October, 250 samples were collected and processed by N.H. Sea Grant trained volunteers. Average microplastics concentrations ranged from 500-7100 pieces per cubic meter depending on the beach and month sampled. The most common microplastic found was plastic fragments and foams. Compared to 2014, an increase in the concentration of prefabricated plastic pellets, called nurdles, was also seen in a few beaches.

Seaweed incubator constructed to produce seed line for N.H. aquaculture industry

N.H. Sea Grant is providing new culture methods, opportunities and markets for seaweed aquaculture in the Northeast.
Relevance: Seaweed aquaculture is a fast-growing industry in New England. Seaweed can be cultured on submerged lines nearshore, grows quickly, removes nitrogen from the environment, and is healthy for humans to consume. Sugar kelp is the type of seaweed commonly grown.
Response: N.H. Sea Grant has been working closely with the University of New Hampshire and Maine Sea Grant to adopt new kelp spawning technologies, which would enable N.H. Sea Grant to produce juvenile kelp seed line for seaweed farmers throughout the year. A kelp incubator was constructed and is maintained at the UNH Coastal Marine Lab. Mature kelp blades are collected from the wild and spawned in the lab. Glass aquariums with chilled water and fluorescent lights are used to grow the juvenile kelp on string wrapped around PVC pipes. After six to eight weeks, the kelp line can be moved offshore to seaweed farms where it is grown on heavier lines.
Results: Growth studies indicate that sugar kelp grown in N.H. waters averages about eight lbs/foot. It has been sold to local restaurants with a value of $10 per pound. This market represents a new sector for seaweed that is typically sold as a dried, processed or frozen product.

N.H. Sea Grant partners with N.H. Public Television on documentary about saving New England fisheries

N.H. Sea Grant partnered with N.H. Public Television to produce a documentary called Saving New England Fisheries, focusing on the complex challenges facing Gulf of Maine fisheries and the people — including NOAA fisheries scientists, managers, fishermen and entrepreneurs — and their approaches to meeting these challenges. The program will enable informed, productive discussion on the issue.
Relevance: While many people realize that there is a struggle to save New England fisheries, very few understand the complexity of issues surrounding challenges to fishing. In general, there is little awareness of the complex scientific, societal, technological and economic challenges facing fishing in the Northeast and the efforts by fishermen, scientists, managers and consumers to move forward.
Response: A N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialist partnered with N.H. Public Television in 2015 and received funding from the Butler Foundation to produce a documentary called Saving New England Fisheries. The documentary focuses on the complex challenges facing Gulf of Maine fisheries, and also on the people — NOAA fisheries scientists, managers, fishermen and entrepreneurs — and their approaches to meeting these challenges.
Results: A N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialist was an associate producer on the program that will air in May 2016. The documentary will also be shown at public screenings and screenings in schools throughout N.H., Maine and Massachusetts. The program will inform discussion and educate consumers, scientists, managers and the general public to bring a focused, productive discussion to contentious issues surrounding Gulf of Maine fisheries.

N.H. Sea Gant conducts needs assessment for local groundfishermen in crisis

Given severe cuts in allowable catch and uncertainty about the future of groundfishing in N.H., it is critical to understand the current situation, perspective and needs of N.H. groundfishermen to inform action addressing their circumstances. N.H. Sea Grant interviewed groundfishermen to assess their perspectives and opinions about potential responses to the crisis and broadcast results to fishermen, extension agents, politicians, NOAA scientists and managers, and non-profit organizations.
Relevance: Given severe cuts in how much fish fishermen are allowed to catch and uncertainty about the future of groundfishing for N.H. fishermen, it is critical to understand the current situation, perspective and needs of N.H. groundfishermen as soon as possible in order to inform action that will address their circumstances. This information must accurately reflect the voice of fishermen and make its way into the hands of people who can collectively search for resources, support and actions that can help.
Response: In 2015, N.H. Sea Grant interviewed as many N.H. groundfishermen as possible who have been active in the last two years in order to assess their perspectives and opinions about potential responses to the crisis. Two-thirds of qualifying fishermen were interviewed.
Results: The assessment found that fishermen will move into alternative fisheries where possible, including lobster, scallops, dogfish, whiting and tuna. In addition, several fishermen will fish further from shore or further south to avoid Gulf of Maine cod which have low catch limits. Some fishermen are concerned about the safety of these adjustments because smaller boats are not as well equipped to safely travel farther offshore or to handle different gear. Frustration with the quality of science available to managers was found to be a consistent issue for fishermen. N.H. Sea Grant produced a four-page information sheet that summarized the needs assessment in a concise and easy-to-read format. Results were distributed to fishermen, extension agents, politicians, NOAA scientists and managers, and non-profit organizations, raising their awareness of the issues from the point of view of the fishermen who are most affected by their potential future actions.

Aquaculture specialist from N.H. Sea Grant travels to Cuba to explore transfer of ocean aquaculture technologies

Representatives from U.S. agriculture, including N.H. Sea Grant's marine aquaculture specialist, traveled to Cuba in 2015 to create a dialog and foster relationships with their counterparts in Cuba toward advancing trade relations between the two countries.
Relevance: Over 50 years ago the U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cuba that is still in place today. As relations with Cuba have improved, there has been increased pressure to lift the embargo. Opening agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba could expand the agriculture markets of both countries.
Response: N.H. Sea Grant's marine aquaculture specialist participated in the U.S. Agriculture Coalition Learning Journey to Cuba in March of 2015. The mission of the visit was to lay the groundwork for improved agricultural trade between the two nations. Meetings were held with representatives of the University of Havana and the Cuban Ministries of Investment and Economic Cooperation, Agriculture, and Marine Fisheries. Day trips were conducted to different agricultural venues including a tour of a marine fish cage farm in the Bay of Pigs.
Results: Many opportunities exist between the countries if the embargo is lifted, such as the export/import of goods and technologies, education exchanges and tourism. Collaborations with Cuban counterparts are well underway with the hope that ocean aquaculture technologies can be transferred for the production of seafood for local consumption and export markets.

N.H. Sea Grant information sheet informs scientists about striped bass aquaculture efforts

N.H. Sea Grant produced an information sheet in 2015 that informs scientists and aquaculturists about improvements in striped bass aquaculture using land-based, marine recirculating systems.
Relevance: Striped bass aquaculture is gaining popularity throughout the United States. It has the potential to be an excellent option for improving broodstock breeding programs and may lead to the development of new markets and sources of income for aquaculturists. Various efforts are taking place throughout the nation to improve striped bass aquaculture and scientists wanted a brief summary of those efforts.
Response: N.H. Sea Grant developed a one-page information sheet in 2015 that details scientific efforts throughout the nation to select for certain desirable genetic traits of striped bass and to identify markets for striped bass grown in land-based, marine recirculating aquaculture systems.
Results: The information sheet provides a concise update on advancements made in striped bass aquaculture and has been distributed electronically to scientists and aquaculturists throughout the nation who are interested in this topic.

N.H. Sea Grant receives funding to transfer raised gillnets to fishermen to conserve cod and maintain profitable catches

N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialists partnered with fishermen from four fishing communities in the Gulf of Maine to expand testing of experimental nets designed to avoid cod, which have low limits on how much fishermen are allowed to catch, while continuing to capture more abundant species.
Relevance: Reduction in how much Atlantic cod fishermen are allowed to catch in the Gulf of Maine has limited fishing opportunities for many fishermen who encounter cod while fishing for other, more abundant types of fish. More than ever, fishermen in this region need methods to avoid cod while still catching other, marketable species.
Response: Led by N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialists, N.H. and Maine fishermen have been testing raised gillnets — gillnets raised off the sea bed by two to four feet — that allow cod to escape capture while allowing capture of other species that are found higher in the water column. Initial testing during 2012 to 2014 has been encouraging. However, additional testing is required to allow more fishermen to gain experience with the nets and to test the nets in additional locations and at different times of the year.
Results: In 2015, N.H. Sea Grant partnered with four fishing communities in the Gulf of Maine and received funding to build, distribute and test the experimental, raised gillnets throughout the Gulf of Maine, and to communicate the results of the study to regional fishermen and net manufacturers. The project will engage 16 fishermen who will fish the experimental nets during 2016 and 2017. If effective, the nets will enable fishermen to fish more of their allowable catch for abundant types of fish while conserving Atlantic cod, which is an essential requirement for fishermen to sustain their jobs.

2014

Shellfish aquaculture contributes over $1M in ecosystem services to Great Bay Estuary
The shellfish aquaculture industry spawned over the years in the Great Bay Estuary with very direct N.H. Sea Grant guidance is providing fresh and local seafood to the region and helping area fishermen make a living while also contributing over $1 million in services to the estuarine environment.
RELEVANCE: Over the past few years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the impaired water quality of the Great Bay Estuary, particularly on the need to reduce nutrient inputs. One element of this has been a concern that aquaculture development in the area would exacerbate the problem.
RESPONSE: N.H. Sea Grant has been working for many years to help develop an aquaculture industry in the region, both to assure a supply of quality seafood and to help local commercial fishermen find ways to earn a living while remaining on the water. Various studies have shown that shellfish remove nutrients, including phosphorous, carbon and nitrogen, from their environment 24/7 through their filter feeding. Because of this, NHSG has been particularly interested in developing shellfish aquaculture in the estuary, both in the form of oyster farms and in multi-trophic aquaculture, which combines fish, seaweed and blue mussels.
RESULTS: A NOAA Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment study performed during 2014 validated NHSG’s approach to the reduction of nutrient loading. The study placed a value of $1.1-1.3 million on the ecosystem services that the current level of shellfish aquaculture is providing the Great Bay Estuary and further estimated that the value could triple with future expansion.

N.H. aquaculture industry sees robust growth
The University of New Hampshire and N.H. Sea Grant are developing and transferring aquaculture technologies to help build a sustainable seafood industry in New England.
RELEVANCE: Sea Grant emphasizes the importance of building a safe and sustainable domestic seafood supply. This is especially significant since the nation’s wild capture fisheries have plateaued at less than 100 million ton per year since the 1990s. In addition, fishery management measures have greatly decreased bag and size limits, making it difficult for fishermen to stay in business.
RESPONSE: N.H. Sea Grant has been developing and transferring ocean farming technologies to fishermen, students and marine entrepreneurs. Species now grown locally include oysters, blue mussels, steelhead trout and sugar kelp. Recently, funds were awarded UNH and NHSG to design, build and test an open ocean, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture platform, which incorporates the culture of multiple species (trout, mussels and kelp) on the same platform. One benefit of this is that nutrients from the fish are taken up by the shellfish and seaweed, thus preventing environmental degradation. This type of small-scale, ecosystem-friendly aquaculture is well suited for fishing communities and seafood business operators in coastal areas.
RESULTS: During 2014 the number of oyster farms in N.H. doubled from seven to 14. Oyster sales doubled to $110,000 and are expected to double again in 2015. During 2014, 30 people were working full- or part-time in the oyster aquaculture industry in the state and another nine were working in other areas of marine aquaculture. The integrated multi-trophic demonstration site used to train fishermen on aquaculture produced $25,000 in revenue and provided over 2,000 pounds of mussel seed to Isle of Shoals Mariculture for growout offshore.

N.H. Sea Grant and partners organize coastal cleanups at the Isles of Shoals
NHSG and its partners continued to improve and restore habitats on the Isles of Shoals through the removal of marine litter and derelict fishing gear.
RELEVANCE: Derelict fishing gear and marine litter are continuing problems in coastal communities, affecting marine wildlife, sea birds, commercial and recreational boaters, and beach goers. Accumulations of lobster traps and associated gear on the Isles of Shoals pose hazards for humans and sea birds because removal of this debris is infrequent and costly.
RESPONSE: There are frequent coastal cleanups conducted on N.H. beaches, but the Isles of Shoals are five miles offshore and cleanups there are logistically challenging. However, N.H. Sea Grant and the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation have been able to continue yearly cleanups of these islands through formation of new partnerships with local fishermen and other island stakeholders.
RESULTS: In 2014, approximately two tons of marine debris and derelict lobster gear was removed from six of the nine islands and approximately 100 acres were partially restored. The gear was then turned into electricity at a neighboring waste to energy facility as part of the Marine Debris to Energy Program.

N.H. Sea Grant helps coordinate annual spring lobster trap cleanup
NHSG and its partners continued to improve and restore coastal habitats in N.H. by removing derelict lobster gear and engaging large numbers of fishermen in the effort.
RELEVANCE: Derelict fishing gear and marine litter are continuing problems in coastal communities, affecting marine wildlife, sea birds, commercial and recreational boaters, and beach goers. Accumulations of lobster traps and associated gear on N.H. beaches throughout the year pose hazards for humans and can affect tourism and aesthetics in the state.
RESPONSE: There are frequent coastal cleanups conducted on N.H. beaches but because of state laws, which prevent citizens from touching and removing lobster gear, lobster traps accumulate on the beaches throughout the year. N.H. Sea Grant, the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, N.H. Fish and Game, and the N.H. Commercial Fishermen’s Association have been able to continue yearly spring cleanups focusing specifically on removal of lobster gear along the entire N.H. coastline.
RESULTS: In 2014, approximately 60 lobstermen and fishermen removed 15 tons of derelict lobster gear from N.H. beaches and partially restored 2,240 acres. The gear was then turned into electricity at a neighboring waste to energy facility as part of the Marine Debris to Energy Program.

N.H. Sea Grant supports continuing emergence of N.H. Community Seafood
NHSG extension specialists supported the continuing emergence of community-based market solutions that link existing businesses in coastal communities to meet demand for local, sustainably caught seafood that directs higher profits to fishing businesses for their catch. These actions serve to build coastal community resilience during uncertain and challenging economic times for N.H. fishermen.
RELEVANCE: Local branding, marketing and other activities are necessary to build fishing community resilience by developing markets that reflect the ecological and economic realities of fishing.
RESPONSE: During 2014, a N.H. Sea Grant extension specialist sat on the board of N.H. Community Seafood (NHCSF), a community-based seafood marketing initiative, which is co-owned by seacoast fishermen and consumers. NHCSF had an average of over 400 shareholders during three, eight-week seasons that generated over $200,000 in revenue during the year. Market connections were established that linked N.H. fishermen, processors, restaurants and consumers, and created economic opportunity for fishermen and other coastal community businesses.
RESULTS: The program serves as a vehicle for outreach to consumers about local seafood and fishing, with an email list exceeding 2,000 members. In addition, purchases during 2014 provided over $11,000 in profits to fishermen above alternative auction pricing.

N.H. Sea Grant Doyle Fellow first UNH student to culture juvenile oysters
A Doyle Fellow spent the summer of 2014 working with NHSG’s marine aquaculture specialist to learn about the integrated aquaculture of blue mussels, sugar kelp and steelhead trout. As part of his fellowship, the University of New Hampshire undergraduate also investigated the efficacy of the green sea urchin as an anti-fouling agent for Belon oysters grown in cages at the bottom of the ocean. The green sea urchin proved effective at reducing bio-fouling on oyster cages and shells. These results caused him to explore larval rearing strategies to raise Belon oysters from lab-based sources and he was able to culture several hundred juveniles, a first for a UNH student.

N.H. Sea Grant designs two fisheries posters to educate the public about climate change and gear technology
N.H. Sea Grant designed two posters in 2014 that focus on climate change and gear technology in relation to New England commercial fishing. The posters were displayed at the first biennial NHSG research symposium where attendees had an opportunity to read the information and ask NHSG fisheries staff questions about the topic. Both posters educate the public about fisheries research as well as the role that N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialists play in Northern New England fishing communities.

Poster educates public about N.H. Sea Grant research and extension efforts to market local seafood
In 2014, N.H. Sea Grant designed a poster to educate the public about its research and extension efforts to market local seafood. Commercial fishermen are seeking ways to market local, "underloved" seafood species — those that are plentiful in New England waters but not well-known to the public. The poster first describes NHSG-funded research to determine consumer and restaurant preferences for these local species, then summarizes staff efforts to creatively market seafood based on the research findings. The poster was presented at Sea Grant Week in 2014 to help spread the word among professionals who may be interested in initiating similar efforts within their state.

Consumers guide helps N.H. residents shop wisely for seafood
At the request of one of N.H. Sea Grant’s commercial fisheries specialists, NHSG Communications produced a wallet-sized consumers guide to buying quality New Hampshire seafood. With photos and very concise prose, the guide tells shoppers what to look for and what to avoid when purchasing fresh cut fish, whole and dressed fish, and live shellfish. NHSG extension staff use the guide to help promote consumption of local seafood.

N.H. Sea Grant leads the establishment of an ocean climate observing program
In 2014, a NHSG fisheries extension specialist carried out two phases of a project to collect ocean temperature data and catch data with three N.H. gillnet fishermen. The project was funded by The Nature Conservancy. The first phase of the project tested the equipment and data collection methods and the second phase extended the program to three additional fishermen. The second phase will continue through 2015. The project is designed to provide fishermen basic oceanographic data to inform their fishing practices and their ecological understanding of changes in the system driven by temperature changes. A working group was established that includes regional ocean scientists, fisheries scientists, state fishermen and representatives from The Nature Conservancy. Future development of the project will extend the project regionally and will link results with regional fisheries and ocean and climate scientists.

NHSG and partners lead N.H.'s first underwater derelict lobster trap removal effort
In 2014, a N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialist worked with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, World Animal Protection, and N.H. Fish and Game to carry out the first underwater detection and removal effort of derelict lobster traps in the waters off of the state’s coast. The project was funded by World Animal Protection and used side-scan sonar equipment on loan from Virginia Sea Grant. The project was to test the efficacy of using such technology to detect abandoned gear underwater and then, using grappling equipment, ground-truth the observations. Twenty-four lost lobster traps were detected and retrieved along with 400 pounds of inactive fishing rope and line and 127 animals (lobsters, crabs and fish) were released back into the ocean. Additionally, of the 24 traps, 17 were still in fishable condition; the owner was able to retrieve the traps, saving himself approximately $1,275.

N.H. Sea Grant supports development of alternative seafood markets
N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialists planned and guided implementation of a project aiming at identifying value-added seafood processing as an important opportunity to improve the resiliency of N.H. fishing businesses. This project built off recommendations from UNH, NHSG and UNH Cooperative Extension seafood marketing research. The project developed two products, packaged lobster meat and pollock fish sticks, which were taste tested at markets and events in 2014. The project partnered with Damon Frampton of the Portsmouth Lobster Company and Peter Kendall, manager of the Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative in Seabrook, NH. A financial assessment of the business opportunity associated with these products is being conducted.

N.H. Sea Grant supports development of sea vegetable markets with workshops
With guidance from Maine Sea Grant extension specialists, N.H. Sea Grant fisheries extension specialists have developed and launched a new series of sea vegetable (seaweed) workshops that involve outreach and education on the ecology and nutritional benefits of incorporating sea vegetable into diets. Additionally, the workshops also highlight the work that NHSG aquaculture specialists are doing with the integrated multi-trophic aquaculture of sugar kelp, mussels and steelhead trout. These two workshops were conducted in partnership with a local N.H. restaurant in a learn and dine format and attracted some 55 participants. Future related efforts that are currently in development include hands-on foraging workshops and a K-12 geared workshop.

Publications

Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant

Periodical

  • Reflections from the other side of a cod crisis on "The Rock." Erik Chapman. Commercial Fisheries News 42(12):30-31, September 2015.
  • Collaborative projects aim to give real-time sea bottom temperature data to fishermen. Erik Chapman. Commercial Fisheries News 42(7):38-39, March 2015.
  • Fishing for new markets: retail initiatives shore up seafood industry. Erik Chapman. NH Business Review, December 25, 2015.
  • GEARNET wraps up: "bottom-up" style yields results, relationships. Erik Chapman. Commercial Fisheries News 41(9):22-23, May 2014.
  • REDNET finds restoring redfish fishery involves trade offs, stumbling blocks. Erik Chapman. Commercial Fisheries News 41(6):20,29, February 2014.
  • USDA Rural Development, a new funding source. Erik Chapman. Commercial Fisheries News 41(12):24-25, August 2014.

Information Sheet

  • 2015 needs assessment for N.H. groundfishermen (2015). Erik Chapman.
  • Striped bass aquaculture in New England (2015). David Berlinsky and Michael Chambers.
  • New Hampshire Sea Grant aquaculture (2014). Rebecca Zeiber.
  • New Hampshire Sea Grant marketing locally caught seafood (2014). Rebecca Zeiber.

Poster

  • New Hampshire Sea Grant: establishing a community-based climate ocean observing system in N.H. (2015). Erik Chapman.
  • New Hampshire Sea Grant: helping N.H. fishermen develop new gear to catch pollock and avoid cod (2015). Erik Chapman.
  • A microplastics survey of New Hampshire beaches: a citizen science pilot study (2015). Gabriela Bradt.