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NASA-NOAA Fisheries Task Ben Holt, Ed Armstrong, Yi Chao-JPL. Goal : Develop applications with NOAA fisheries groups to incorporate NASA satellite ocean data products into fisheries and marine resources management and assessment activities that will lead to decision support tools.

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NASA-NOAA Fisheries Task

Ben Holt, Ed Armstrong, Yi Chao-JPL

Goal: Develop applications with NOAA fisheries groups to incorporate NASA satellite ocean data products into fisheries and marine resources management and assessment activities that will lead to decision support tools.

•Joint NASA/NOAA workshop held Monterey, May 2006

•Support by NASA provided to 4 NOAA projects

•Task management by JPL to setup subcontracts, provide guidance and analysis as needed.

Holt 05/07/2009

NOAA Studies
  • 1) Stock assessment - Rockfish Fishery rebuilding tool (West Coast US)

2) Stock assessment - Cod/haddock - New England

3) Stock assessment - Sablefish - Alaska

4) Marine habitat classification - Sea turtle by-catch, 2 year study

  • Need for basic physical ocean data to use with fish stock data to improve understanding-prediction/models of environmental parameters that affect stocks and recruitment, animal distribution and habitat.

Data Sets of Primary Interest :

•Sea surface temperature, ocean color, sea surface height

•Long time series

Stock assessment - Rockfish Fishery rebuilding tool (West Coast US)

R. Methot-NOAA, A. Punt, C. Holt, N. Mantua-U. Washington

E. Armstrong, B. Holt - JPL

Pacific Ocean Perch

Goal: Identify biological, chemical, physical indicators of

conditions in California Current that have influenced long-term

trends in recruitment of West Coast groundfish species.

•Long life spans >50 years.Spawn offshore and nearshore (and then settle nearshore).


  • Various hypothesis investigated
    • Variability of the west coast Spring Transition (upwelling commences)
    • Fine scale temporal variability of SST
    • Fine scale spatial variability of SST
  • Study area
    • Divided into a northern and southern region. Cape Mendocino is the boundary
  • Stock assessment model (NOAA Stock Synthesis II) used to generate recruitment estimates from observations of fish catch and surveys
SST frontal products

SST gradients of .025 degC / km (i.e., 2.5 degC / 100 km)

Global .25 deg spatial resolution, daily temporal, cloud free (no missing data)

  • Both the Spring Transition dates and frontal probability maps correlation to recruitment estimates were not significant at 5% significance level
  • But some trends were enticing, especially for nearshore spawn/settle species
  • => Examine higher resolution data - 4 km Pathfinder

10 day frontal products calculated continuously from 1985-2006

Probability of SST fronts in coastal habitat for groundfish larval

•Hypothesis: recruitment success increases with the number and complexity of fronts

•Has led to development of new SST frontal product at PODAAC

Using Satellite Data to Improve Short-Term Recruitment Predictions for Cod and Haddock – Jon Brodziak, NMFS/PIFSC

Fishery Stock Assessment Models

•The recruitment prediction problem - what regulates the production of juvenile fish?

•Is recruitment strength environmentally driven or is spawner abundance the dominant effect ?

Earth Observations

•Primary productivity on Georges Bank during autumn feeding season prior to spring spawning to index spawning condition and gonadal development – primary productivity from SeaWIFS derived products

•Sea surface temperature on Georges Bank during spawning season to index thermal effects on larval growth; both cod and haddock have optimal temperature windows based on laboratory rearing studies – SST from AVHRR Pathfinder

Friedland et al. 2008.

Does the fall phytoplankton bloom control recruitment of Georges Bank haddock through parental condition? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci.

Georges Bank Cod

Societal Benefits

Goal: Achieve optimum fishery yield

Cod long-term potential yield MSY = 31 kt, worth about $62 million/yr

Cod recent average yield RAY = 5 kt

Haddock MSY = 33 kt, worth about $66 million/yr

Haddock RAY = 18 kt

Maintain fishing communities by maximizing total allowable catches under court-mandated Amendment 13 rebuilding plan

Improve stakeholder buy-in by including environmental effects on groundfish recruitment

  • Using sea surface temperature (SST) during February-May improved out-of-sample predictions of Georges Bank cod recruitment (R) during 2004-2007 and reduced root mean-squared prediction error by 70% relative to the status quo predictor.
  • Similar results for Haddock using spring SST and fall SeaWiFS.
Integrating Environmental, Fisheries and Electronic

Tag Data to Characterize Sea Turtle Habitat

Principal Investigators:

Bograd, Palacios (Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

Howell, Polovina (Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center)

Orphanides, Murray (Northeast Fisheries Science Center)


Altimetry (surface gesotrophic currents, MKE, EKE)

Ocean Color (surface chlorophyll-a, fronts)

Sea Surface Temperature


Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP)

Electronically-Tagged Leatherback Turtles
  • Are these turtles following any environmental cue?
  • Is there a predictive environmental parameter?
Two Phases of Migration - Dispersal

Eddy kinetic energy from sea-level anomaly (u’,v’)

EKE (cm2/s2)

•Migration corridor- highly energetic tropical Pacific, turtle speeds are high, heading varies with currents

•Central subtropical gyre - very low EKE, very slow movements of the turtles, foraging

Foraging in an Oceanographic “Cold Spot”

Climatological surface chlorophyll from SeaWiFS

•Turtles hang out for long time in very low productive ocean, foraging, but why there??

•Speculation: relative quiesence, high water clarity of the region to enable them to forage with minimal energy expenditure

• High seas time-area closure based on minimum EKE region?

sst distributions
The PIFSC TurtleWatch productSST distributions

Loggerheads (bycatch)

  • All SST values from 1994 - 2006
  • Interquartile range of turtle interactions 1994-2006 between 17.5ºC and 18.5ºC
  • Swordfish within similar range yet skewed to warmer temperatures (17.4ºC – 18.8ºC)
  • These are fishery dependent, what is “real” turtle distribution?
  • Have positions from 105 juvenile satellite-tracked turtles (97-06): in much colder surface waters
  • Due to ARGOS satellite positions, 18.5ºC chosen as northern rec. limit of fishing (conservative)

Swordfish sets

Loggerheads (satellite tags)

refinement of turtlewatch product
Refinement of TurtleWatch product

Based on NESDIS SST (GAC 4 km 3 day average) and JPL Geostrophic Currents (9 km 7 day)

Provided daily by email to industry/managers and hand carried to fishers

Also translated into Vietnamese

Also distributed by GeoEye to fishers

  • Based on lack of interactions in colder SST (yet higher observed satellite positions) we can begin to refine TurtleWatch
  • Chose to recommend thermal band (17.5º-18.5ºC) as region to avoid
Alaskan Sablefish ProjectS. Kalei Shotwell & Dana H. Hanselman
  • Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)
    • Fast growing, wide distribution, high commercial value
    • Adults at 200+ meters on continental slope, gullies, fjords
  • Early life history (ELH) largely unknown
    • Spawning at depth (400+m), larvae swim to surface
    • Juveniles overwinter nearshore, then offshore in summer
    • Reach adult habitat and recruit to survey in 4 to 5 years
  • Stock assessed with age-structured model, updated annually
    • Highly migratory behavior, recruitment calculated in model
    • No large year classes since late 1970s, rapid decline
    • Large uncertainty in most recent estimates, excluded from model projections
  • Objective
    • Evaluate ELH data and explore integrating satellite derived environmental time series into the stock assessment to reduce recruitment uncertainty
Early Life History
  • Collected ELH data and compared to model recruitment
    • Sampling discontinuous and not directed, but general agreement
    • Identified critical pathways during high recruitment years (circles)
  • Survey bottom and surface temperature analysis (in progress)
  • • NASA satellite ocean data products useful for improving fisheries stock assessements and marine resources management
  • =>Equivalent to feasibility studies. Expected to lead to Decision Support Proposals, already led to additional NOAA and Canadian efforts
  • •Additional use includes improving field sampling for surveys.
  • •Interest in use of ocean model data that may extend further back in time beyond satellite record.
  • •Challenge to get up to speed with new data sets and products.
  • •Developed five NASA Langley DEVELOP student studies.
  • -Two with sablefish, eddy detection with altimeter, SST, and SAR
  • -Two to assess improvement to upwelling index with use of satellite and model fields
  • -Upcoming - Development of packaged West Coast SST and ocean color time series, evaluate for hake field surveys.