Date of Award

Summer 2006


© 2006 Melissa Smith

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Marine Sciences


Marine Science

First Advisor

Jonathan H. Grabowski

Second Advisor

Philip O. Yund

Third Advisor

Stephan Zeeman


Over two-thirds of the world’s harvested fish stocks are considered to be either reduced or threatened because of overexploitation, which suggest that one of the central challenges facing coastal managers is the recovery and sustainable harvesting of these species. One promising fishery management strategy is the use of marine reserves, or conservation areas where fishing is prohibited, to rebuild depleted populations. In the Gulf of Maine (GoM), several closed areas have been established to restrict fishing activities such as gillnetting, scallop dredging, and mid-water and bottom trawling. These closures in the GoM not only protect diminished fish stocks, but also protect seafloor habitat utilized by these demersal fish species from the detrimental effects of dredging and bottom trawling. The largest closure in the GoM is the Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area (WGMCA) which encompasses parts of Stellwagen Bank, Jeffrey’s Ledge, and Wildcat Knoll. Within the WGMCA, there are several habitat types such as mud, gravel, cobble, exposed rock ledge, and a mix of biogenic structures that are potentially used by groundfish. The goal set for the WGMCA is to ensure nursery habitat protection for dwindling cod and other groundfish species such as goosefish (Lophius americanus) while also reducing groundfish mortality from mobile gear fisheries. Goosefish have been fished heavily over the past three decades and have exhibited signs of reduced abundance (i.e. decreased landings and smaller average size of fish landed). It is unclear which types of habitats limit juvenile and adult goosefish abundance. Furthermore, it is unknown whether reserves such as the WGMCA will effectively benefit this species. I used otter trawl surveys to investigate whether season (spring vs. fall), habitat (mud vs. edge of structured habitat) and reserve status (in vs. out) collectively influence goosefish distribution, abundance, feeding ecology, and goosefish in the Gulf of Maine.


Masters thesis

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