DV-13-07 Assessing halibut life history and habitat preferences

Julia Beaty
University of Maine

The Atlantic halibut population in the Gulf of Maine collapsed in the late nineteenth century. As a result, little information is available on the life history, stock structure, and habitat usage of this species in the Gulf of Maine. This information is critical for setting appropriate regulations for the halibut fishery, which persists on a small scale in Maine state waters and as a bycatch-only fishery in federal waters. Beaty, a University of Maine graduate student and Maine Sea Grant Scholar, will build a generalized additive statistical model using catch records and measurements and models of environmental variables. She will combine this with information gleaned from interviews with at least 25 fishermen about the habitat characteristics of the areas where they catch halibut. The results will allow for improved stock assessments and estimates of allowable biological catch and catch shares, as well as a better understanding of how the population responds to environmental changes and changes in fishing pressure. This project also aims to provide an example of how fishermen’s knowledge and scientific data can be used in conjunction to learn about habitats used by marine species.

Sea Grant funds: $5,140