A new partnership between the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Intercampus Graduate School of Marine Sciences and Technology, and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
About the MFI
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has long had one of the most valuable commercial fishing industries in the nation. Over the past ten years, the state's recreational fishing industry has expanded enormously and is now ranked as the second most valuable in the country. Together, the commercial and recreational marine economies employ more than 80,000 people in Massachusetts and contribute close to $2 billion to the economy. Hence Massachusetts has suffered more than most states in recent decades from the one-two punch of decreasing fish stocks and ever more restrictive regulations.
It was in this context that, on November 4, 2002, Bob Durand and William Bulger (then Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs and President of the University of Massachusetts, respectively) jointly signed a memorandum of agreement that established the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute.
For several years, the University of Massachusetts worked to coalesce the considerable marine expertise of its five campuses into a unique system-wide graduate school. Their efforts were finally realized in 2001, with the birth of the Massachusetts Intercampus Graduate School of Marine Sciences and Technology (IGS). Now, with the establishment of the Marine Fisheries Institute, the academic research power of IGS merges with the applied know-how of the Division of Marine Fisheries to promote sustainable fisheries by providing timely information and guidance for the protection, conservation and management of the state's marine and coastal resources.
Goal: To become a nationally and internationally recognized educational center of excellence and leader in developing innovative and practical fisheries management applications contributing to scientific understanding, management, and the economic growth and sustainability of our oceans and the communities of Massachusetts that border on the ocean.
The MFI will administer and support research projects involving
· five UMass campuses
What better location for the new marine fisheries partnership than the nation's number one fishing port, New Bedford, where the city is providing a former Naval Reserve Center building to house the Institute. Located near Fort Rodman and looking out over Buzzard's Bay, the NRC building is next door to UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), whose researchers are among the prospective participants in the Institute.
Monkfish Project: DMF researcher and commercial gillnetters are collaboraing in a pilot survey project to increase scientific information on monkfish and improve monkfish management and conservation.
Logbook Project: In a connected effort, IGS scientists from SMAST are analyzing logbooks from cooperating draggers and gillnetters to try to develop a catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) standardized index of stock size.
Pilot Cod Project: Working with Maine and New Hampshire agencies, DMF scientists are studying cod aggregations and distribution in the Gulf of Maine.
R/V Gloria Michelle: In anticipation of the cooperative work to be carried out under the auspices of MFI, the DMF is making plans to bring the research vessel Gloria Michelle to the port of New Bedford, where it will be berthed at the State Fish Pier.
Flume Tank: In the longer-term, MFI plans to construct a flume tank in New Bedford to test the performance of fishing gear. At present, there are just a handful of such facilities in the world, and none in the U.S.