Project Overview


Marine fisheries management is a unique field where governance must consider the effects of multiple uses on its management (e.g., from infrastructure siting for other marine use sectors). There is a need to understand space use effects, as well as how impacts to fisheries monitoring from spatial changes propagate through to scientific uncertainty in fisheries governance.

Space use effects and spatial changes may influence the availability of fishery habitat to both fishery-independent survey data and fishery-dependent data. As key inputs to stock assessments, the uncertainty associated with the data can consequently influence catch advice, such that increased uncertainty in the estimations of stock statuses may result in more precautionary scientific advice (lower catch quotas) as managers attempt to mitigate risk.

Quantifying the effects of this uncertainty specifically for scientific monitoring for fisheries performance is a critical step in understanding system effects of multiple ocean uses. In turn, we can then quantify the value and costs associated with alternative monitoring required to mitigate this uncertainty to sustain the integrity of data streams for fisheries assessment and management.


Planned offshore wind development is a space use case where spatial changes have the potential to impact the availability of fishery habitat to fishery-independent survey data. In the Northeast US and Mid-Atlantic, the planned development areas overlap extensively with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Bottom Trawl Survey footprints, which have been conducted annually since the 1960s and form the basis of fishery-independent data used in stock assessments for commercially- and recreationally-important fisheries. Based on reviews by BOEM and NMFS, it is likely that bottom trawling will not be able to take place near wind sites, thereby reducing resource survey footprints and forcing non-random interactions of the survey with species’ distribution and/or life history. Without changes to survey design, consideration of the effects of wind area development to the survey footprint, and the evaluation of supplemental monitoring, the impending survey footprint reduction will diminish the accuracy and representativeness of data that the surveys produce as well as the accuracy of stock assessment models and stock status estimations downstream.

SSEEP will conduct a series of stakeholder workshops in a participatory approach to guide development of a spatial observation simulation model for the NMFS Bottom Trawl Survey. The simulator will be able to evaluate the efficacy and statistical properties of changes to survey design, assess the efficacy and performance of alternative and/or supplemental methods for monitoring groundfish distribution, abundance, and trends, and evaluate expected changes to survey data products as a result of spatial reductions in survey coverage along the US East Coast. The project scope, objectives, and anticipated outcomes and products can be found on the Scope page of this section.

Funding and Partnerships

SSEEP is a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth SMAST, NOAA NEFSC, BOEM, and Fishery Applications Consulting Team (Fishery Apps). Funding for the UMass Dartmouth SMAST project Principal Investigator (PI) and staff is supported by a NOAA NEFSC award to the Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region (CINAR). The Project Team is supported by a Steering Committee, and additional partners from NOAA Fisheries, and continued engagement with stakeholders representing wind and fishery science, management, and industry. More information on SSEEP engagement can be found on the Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 page of the Stakeholder Workshop section.