Southern New England Cooperative Ventless Trap Survey 

general description:

This project is a continuation of the Southern New England Ventless Trap Survey (SNECVTS) conducted in 2014/2015, and aims to assess the seasonal distribution, movement, and habitat use of the American lobster and Jonah crab in the Cox’s Ledge Wind Energy Area. The study will establish a pre-construction baseline for lobster and Jonah crab populations to enable assessment and mitigation of the impacts of offshore wind energy development. 

project goals:

  1. Assess the seasonal distribution, movement, and habitat use of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the Cox's Ledge Wind Energy Area.
  2. Assess the local distribution and habitat use of Jonah Crab (Cancer borealis), a species of emerging economic importance.

Project team:

  • Jeremy Collie, URI
  • Anna Malek Mercer, CFRF
  • Mike Long, CFRF
  • Thomas Heimann, CFRF
  • Brian Hooker, BOEM Project Officer

data collection strategies:

SNECVTS is a collaborative project conducted in partnership with commercial lobstermen, who provide the platforms and background knowledge for the research. Twenty-four lease blocks in the RI/MA WEA were selected for the study, based on their potential for development of offshore wind energy (see map below). Biological sampling is conducted within each lease block two times per month from May to November. Sampling is conducted with trawls consisting of 10 traps (six ventless traps and four standard traps). Biological data is collected for lobsters, Jonah Crabs, and other bycatch species. The habitat type at each sampling site is evaluated using a GoPro camera system.

Lobster and Jonah Crab Ventless Trap Survey:

  • 24 stations (one trawl of 10 traps at each station) sampled twice per month, with a target soak time of 5 days
  • All individuals speciated and enumerated within each trap
  • Depth, bottom water temperature, wind speed, wind direction, and sea state recorded at each sampling station
  • Habitat video surveys conducted once per month to determine the bottom type at each sampling station

The following parameters are recorded for every lobster caught at each sampling station:

  • Sex
  • Size
  • Shell disease severity
  • Shell hardness
  • Egg state
  • V-notch status
  • Cull status
  • Mortality

Similarly, the following parameters are recorded for every Jonah crab caught at each sampling station:

  • Carapace width
  • Sex
  • Shell hardness
  • Egg state
  • Cull status
  • Mortality

Lobster Tagging Survey:

In conjunction with the ventless trap survey within the RI/MA wind energy area, a lobster tagging program will be implemented to determine the seasonal movement patterns and habitat use by lobsters. We will tag 300 lobsters per month.  Recoveries will be made by the sea samplers and reported by commercial lobstermen.

project timeline:

March 2018: Prepare all sampling equipment and permits; Train all sea samplers and participant fishermen in data collection protocols.

May-November 2018:  Conduct ventless trap survey with biological sampling twice per month; Carry out habitat surveys once per month; Classify habitat images and videos; Manage project database.

December-February 2019: Conduct data analysis; Prepare final report; Hold meetings to share results and discuss next steps.


The application period for this project has closed, as of April 26, 2017. If you would like to submit an application for future consideration, please fill out the application and forward either via email, fax or mail to CFRF. To download the vessel application, CLICK HERE. To download the project briefing document, which outlines participant requirements and scope of work,  CLICK HERE.

Media CoveRage:

"Cooperative Research Seeks to Fill in Data Gaps to Support Fisheries Science and Management Efforts" - ASMFC Fisheries Focus, February/March 2018