While the primary objective of IPHC’s fishery-independent setline survey (FISS) is to collect data to inform the Pacific halibut stock assessment, the at-sea research platform of the chartered fishing vessel is an opportunity to collaborate with external researchers on their projects. Each year the FISS program considers special project proposals from other management agencies as well as students.
Multi-year FISS data collection collaborations
Environmental contaminant sampling of Pacific halibut
IPHC sea samplers collect Pacific halibut muscle and liver samples for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) as part of an ongoing study of environmental contaminants in Pacific halibut. Samples were collected from survey stations that corresponded to high commercial catch within the target site. Samples are tested for a broad suite of environmental contaminants, including organochlorine pesticides, dioxins, furans, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, methyl mercury, and heavy metals (arsenic, selenium, lead, cadmium, nickel, and chromium).
Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus) in Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
A subsample of Pacific cod captured on all survey stations in these areas is measured and data are provided to Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management Division of National Marine Fisheries Service’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
Rockfish (Sebasates spp.) sampling
Data collected from rockfish on IPHC’s FISS is one of the primary sources used to manage these species on the U.S. West Coast and British Columbia. The IPHC works with Fish and Wildlife departments of California, Oregon, and Washington to facilitate shoreside biological sampling of all rockfish captured on the survey. In waters off British Columbia, the IPHC sea samplers sample all rockfish and provide data to Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Biological sampling includes sex, maturity, weight, length, genetic samples, and otolith extraction, along with depth and location of capture.
Sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) sampling
The Seattle Aquarium and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center have been examining the population genetics of the broadnose sixgill sharks (Hexanchus griseus) in the North Pacific Ocean. Little is known about these sharks outside of Puget Sound. Since 2014, the IPHC has assisted the Seattle Aquarium by collecting samples of six-gill sharks caught on survey, including simple morphometrics (greatest length) to determine maturity and tissue samples to determine approximate age.
Spiny dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) sampling
A subsample of spiny dogfish is measured at each station throughout the survey range and data are provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Auke Bay Laboratories.
Marine mammals and seabirds
Marine mammal sightings on the FISS are recorded and transmitted to NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory. Sea samplers record sightings information of the Endangered Species Act-listed short-tailed albatross, which are transmitted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
At each FISS station, oceanographic equipment is deployed to capture the water column profile prior to retrieving the longline gear. Water column profiles include chlorophyll a and pH, in addition to temperature, depth, salinity, and dissolved oxygen concentration. These data are processed and made available via collaboration with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) at the University of Washington and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. Datasets are available through the IPHC's Water Column Profiler Data webpage.
Recent short-term collaborations
Electronic monitoring efficacy test (2017)
In cooperation with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), cameras were placed aboard three chartered survey vessels in British Columbia and Alaska to assess the efficacy of electronic monitoring (EM) for catch accounting of retained and discarded catch. Funding is being provided by a PSFMC grant.
Pacific cod genetics (2016)
The University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center collaborated on a request to collect Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) genetic samples during the 2016 FISS. The project will help establish a new method of estimating migration routes in marine fish. These data will also help the stock assessment by estimating the level of migration between statistical areas. More specifically, the study hopes to determine contributions of Aleutian Island and Eastern Bering Sea spawning populations to mixed summer fisheries.
Skate age and maturity sampling (2014)
The IPHC’s sea samplers collected data and specimens for the Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. The project collects information on age, growth and maturity of common skate species: big skate (Raja binoculata) and longnose skate (Raja rhina) in the North Pacific. It assigned reproductive maturity through photo documentation. This information helps fisheries managers to understand aspects of skate reproductive biology and development for age, growth, and maturity research.
Eastern Bering Sea coral identification (2014)
The eastern Bering Sea canyons were proposed as unique habitats and presented to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) to consider conservation measures. The NPFMC has recommended further research to determine the uniqueness of canyons with regard to species assemblages. An important faunal component to consider is structure forming epifauna, such as corals. To support this research, the IPHC’s sea samplers identified all corals encountered during the survey conducted in the eastern Bering Sea. This data will be used in studies of coral species and unique habitat requirements along the outershelf and upper slope of the Eastern Bering Sea continental shelf.
Pacific sleeper shark genetic collection (2013)
Staff at the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Auke Bay Laboratories requested assistance collecting samples from Pacific sleeper sharks (Somniosus pacificus) for an ongoing study examining that species’ population genetics in the north Pacific Ocean. A preliminary analysis of samples previously collected from the Bering Sea has suggested that there are multiple, spatially-overlapping populations. The goal of this project was to collect samples from a broad geographic range to examine the stock structure of this species in detail.
Octopus sampling (2013)
At the request of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the IPHC initiated a comprehensive survey of octopus seen during the 2013 FISS. The purpose of the study was to investigate spatial and depth-distribution of the octopus species seen on Pacific halibut longline gear. A total of 169 octopi were recorded with 91% identified as Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini).