Last month we kicked-off our first winter sampling effort with participating fishermen hoping to collect 40 adult cod over the next few months to be evaluated by their diets through stomach analysis and a laboratory analysis of muscle tissue that will be conducted at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
One question we have is what role the return of river-run fish species, like alewife, might play in the possible recovery of marine fish in the area. Improved fish passage in many coastal rivers and streams in eastern Maine have resulted in enormous increases in the numbers of returning alewife populations in the spring. Are these adult and juvenile fish an important part of the diet for cod, haddock, Pollock and other marine species? That’s one of the questions this study is trying to answer. Although the Sentinel Survey takes place in the summer and fall, many fishermen have reported seeing larger cod in the winter months in this region. These larger cod are probably of breeding age, and are large enough to be feeding on vertebrates like Alewife.
Organizing and leading this winter sampling program is Collaborative Research Specialist, Pat Shepard. Participating fishermen that fish in the region around Stonington will be eligible for prizes based on their level of participation and successful delivery of large cod to MCCF.