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rebuilt stocks to 32 since 2000. The graphic below illustrates the improvements made in 2012.

New Robotic Instruments to Provide Real-Time Data on Gulf of Maine Red Tide

Deployment could lead transformation of toxic HAB monitoring

A new robotic sensor deployed by

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Gulf of Maine coastal waters may transform the way red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) are monitored and managed in New England. The instrument was launched at the end of last month, and a second such system will be deployed later this spring.

Looking Ahead

Looking to the future, it’s important to remember that sustainability is a process, rather than an end point. This report illus- trates that fi shery management under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is working to address past overfi shing and scientifi cally assess the status of stocks. 2012 represents the fi rst year that all federal fi sheries operated un- der annual catch limits designed to end and prevent overfi shing. In the future, we expect the number of stocks on the overfi shing list—now at an all-time low—to decrease further as a result of management under annual catch limits. To build on our success, we need to ensure the timely collection of data, develop more robust and frequent stock assessments, better assess the economic consequences of management actions, and improve under- standing of environmental factors, including climate change, that impact fi shery resourc- es.

Overfi shing—A stock with a fi shing mortality (harvest) rate too high to produce its maximum sustainable yield (MSY)—the largest long-term average catch that can be taken from a stock under prevailing envi- ronmental and fi shery conditions. The target level of stock abundance is the population that can produce MSY. Overfi shed—A stock with a biomass level depleted to a degree that the stock’s capacity to produce MSY is jeopardized.

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The results will add critical data to weekly real-time forecasts of New England red tide this year distributed to more than 150 coastal resource and fi sheries managers in six states as well as federal agencies such as NOAA, the FDA and the EPA. Research- ers also plan to add data from the sensor to regular updates provided on the “Current Status” page of the Northeast PSP website. “This deployment is a critical step towards our long-term dream of having a network of instruments moored along the coast of the Gulf of Maine, routinely provid- ing data on the distribution and abundance of HAB cells and toxins. The technology will greatly enhance management capabil- ities and protection of public health in the region,” says Don Anderson, WHOI senior scientist and the project’s principal investi- gator.

The two sensors, known as Environ- mental Sample Processors (ESPs), are mo- lecular biology labs packed inside canisters the size of kitchen garbage cans. In the Gulf of Maine, the ESPs are mounted to ocean buoys and will detect and estimate concen- trations of two algal species that cause HABs or “red tides” and one of the potentially fatal toxins they produce. The fi rst, Alexandrium fundyense, a sin- gle-celled algae, produces toxins that cause paralytic shellfi sh poisoning (PSP). The sec- ond organism, Pseudo-nitzschia, is a diatom responsible for amnesic shellfi sh poisoning, or ASP The data from the instruments will be transmitted to the shore in real time. One instrument was tested off the coast of Portsmouth, NH, in 2011 and 2012. This year will see the fi rst sustained deployments of the technology spanning the Alexandrium bloom season in the western Gulf of Maine and the fi rst time the algal neurotoxin re- sponsible for PSP will be autonomously

measured by an ESP in natural waters. The project scientists want the ESPs to become an integral part of the regional ocean observatory network managed by the North- eastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), which currently consists of 12 instrumented buoys that measure currents, salinity, tem- perature and meteorological variables at multiple locations in the Gulf of Maine and Long Island Sound.

“The ESPs are not a replacement for state-run programs that monitor naturally occurring marine toxins in shellfi sh. Instead, they will provide valuable data on the phyto- plankton cells and associated toxins in coast- al waters giving managers a more complete picture of the magnitude and distribution of HAB events,” says Kohl Kanwit, director of the Bureau of Public Health for the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Since bloom toxicity can fl uctuate sub- stantially and in turn infl uence toxin levels in shellfi sh, this capability represents a signifi - cant step towards assessing the potential of a bloom to cause shellfi sh toxicity. The toxin detection capability is being implemented through the joint efforts of Greg Doucette of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), who developed the PSP toxin sensor, and Juliette Smith, a postdoctoral investigator in Anderson’s

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laboratory. Funding has been provided by NOAA’s National Ocean Service and from the MIT Sea Grant program.

“Developing this technology and tran-

sitioning it to fi eld testing with academic and industry partners in the Gulf of Maine is the next step in delivering and validating routine forecasts,” says Doucette. “This pilot will demonstrate the ability of ESPs to deliver accurate and critical data to region- al resource managers. This is an excellent example of federal, academic, and industry collaboration working together to protect the public’s health.” The ESP was developed by Chris Scholin, former PhD student with Anderson, and now president and chief executive offi - cer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Earlier models of the ESP were built, tested and used by MBARI researchers, predominantly on the West Coast. The instruments to be deployed in the Gulf of Maine are the fi rst commercially available ESPs, manufactured at McLane Research Laboratories in Falmouth, Mass., under a license from Spyglass Biosecurity. The ESP deployed last month is called “ESPchris”--named for Scholin--and will conduct sampling for approximately 45 days. “ESPdon”--named for Anderson--will

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