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Phase II IUCRC at University of Southern Mississippi Center for Science Center for Marine Fisheries (SCeMFiS)


The Science Center for Marine Fisheries (SCeMFiS) uses academic and commercial finfish and shellfish fisheries resources to address scientific problems limiting sustainable fisheries. SCeMFiS reflects both a continuing expansion of industry-supported research in an era of increased science rigor in management, and the importance of synergistic collaboration between academics, industry, and regulatory agencies in complex management decisions. Phase II will focus research efforts on: (1) precautionary management that maintains quotas below sustainable levels, thereby limiting economic value and jobs, (2) the influence of climate change on sustainable management and long-range planning, (3) resolution of multiple use conflicts (both spatial and over multi-decadal time frames) between fisheries and energy production, and (4) ecosystem management with a focus on forage fish and ecosystem trophic structure. SCeMFiS will develop essential biological data on fish stocks; improve models of sampling design, population dynamics, and fishery performance; evaluate trends in stock structure and their relation to genetics, physiology and sexual dimorphism; and improve approaches to fishing to reduce discards through gear innovation and modifications in fleet deployment. SCeMFiS offers the convergence of capabilities from a range of oceanographic and marine biological disciplines that is essential to meet the challenges faced by fisheries management. <br/><br/>A multi-decadal evolution in fisheries management has formalized the criteria for sustainability and developed numerical models to achieve this goal; but success is limited by insufficient information on fish and shellfish stocks and insufficient development of numerical applications to meet challenges posed by rapid climate change that continues to expose the limitations of present-day data resources and assessment, exacerbating the gap between data availability and data resource needs. SCeMFiS' capabilities encompass the range of oceanographic, fisheries, and marine biological disciplines essential for addressing the data resource and analytical challenges faced by modern-day fisheries. SCeMFiS fosters basic and applied research in the community dynamics, ecology, and environment of the continental shelf. Examples include obtaining the first age-frequency distributions for the US ocean quahog stock, the oldest living non-colonial animals, the first benthic survey east of Nantucket to identify a range shift in surfclams produced by climate change, a software package for evaluation of the adequacy of survey sampling design, and basic biological data on forage fish such as menhaden. These examples show the nexus between applied research directed at basic questions of fishery management and basic research directed at understanding the pelagic, demersal, and benthic realms of the continental shelf.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Eric Powell
University of Southern Mississippi
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