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  • 2024 West Coast Groundfish Bottom Trawl Survey and Indices of Abundance


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring FRAM - Groundfish Ecology; FRAM - Groundfish Ecology - Fisheries Research Survey


FRAM Trawl Survey - 1
2024 West Coast Groundfish Bottom Trawl Survey and Indices of Abundance
The Survey team proposes to conduct the 2024 West Coast Groundfish Bottom Trawl Survey (May to October). The survey provides essential data for stock assessments used to manage west coast groundfish, rebuild overfished species, and prevent overfishing. In general, the accuracy of assessments depends primarily on data from fishery independent surveys. To fulfill the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries Act, the survey collects data for multiple federally managed west coast groundfish (90+). The annual survey occurs at depths of 55 to 1280 m from the US-Canada border to the US-Mexico border. Within this area, catch and environmental sampling occur twice each year using chartered commercial fishing vessels, which follow strict NOAA protocols. For many west coast species, it is the largest source of groundfish data in terms of temporal extent, biological samples and oceanographic data. When we first initiated the survey in 1998, the west coast fishery was in a 30-year decline with 10 stocks declared overfished. More recently, the Marine Stewardship Council certified the groundfish fishery as sustainable with most stocks rebuilt. Successful management of groundfish relies on continued monitoring of fish stocks via the trawl survey, a partnership among scientists and the commercial fishing industry that has resulted in an ongoing 26-year time series on abundance, biology and the environment.

Research Themes

Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, Puget Sound and the Columbia River Basin are home to a wide range of freshwater and marine resources that provide a wealth of ecosystem goods and services. Ensuring the resiliency and productivity of the California Current and Pacific Northwest ecosystems requires an integrated understanding of their structure, function, and vulnerability to increased human population growth in coastal communities and competing uses of coastal waterways and oceans. The NWFSC‘s approach to understanding these large ecosystems integrates studies across ecosystems (terrestrial, freshwater, and marine) and scientific disciplines to inform resource managers responsible for conserving marine resources.
Habitats to support sustainable fisheries and recovered populations
Healthy oceans, coastal waters, and riverine habitats provide the foundation for aquatic resources used by a diversity of species and society. Protecting marine, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems that support these species relies on science to link habitat condition/processes and the biological effects of restoration actions. The NWFSC provides the habitat science behind many management actions taken by NOAA Fisheries and other natural resource agencies to protect and recover aquatic ecosystems and living marine resources. The NWFSC also maintains a longstanding focus on toxic chemical contaminants, as a foundation for regional and national research on pollution threats to fisheries and protected resources.
Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
The Pacific Northwest is home to several iconic endangered species, including Pacific salmon and killer whales, and several rockfish species. Mandates such as the Endangered Species Act, MagnusonStevens Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, grant NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the recovery of depleted species and stocks. The NWFSC contributes to species recovery through research, monitoring and analysis, providing NOAA managers and regional stakeholders the tools and information they need to craft effective regulations and develop sustainable plans for recovery.

Research Foci

Assess ecosystem status and trends
Tracking the status of ecosystems across time and space is data intensive as it necessitates evaluating a broad range of trophic levels and environmental conditions from pre-European times to the present. Because ecosystems vary across space and time, the NWFSC must maintain a research focus on the design and implementation of monitoring programs that are capable of capturing this variability. Key research elements are the development and application of novel survey designs, the development of information rich metrics and indicators, and the development of novel spatiotemporal decision support models to facilitate the use of monitoring data in science based decision making. Long-term monitoring program design should be integrated with the development of ecosystem models and indicators to ensure that critical data are collected to support these efforts. An important management goal is the ability to quickly detect important changes in the state of ecosystems (e.g., presence of an invasive species) such that preventative actions can be taken as soon as possible; thus, key management questions and uncertainties should be identified as the structure of monitoring program design to facilitate the decision-making process. It is imperative that the NWFSC’s monitoring science strengths be applied to the design of ecosystem monitoring programs for species (e.g., salmon, rockfish) and ecosystems so that such programs are strategically designed to maximize useable information and minimize cost and effort.
Characterize ecological interactions (e.g. predation, competition, parasitism, disease, etc.) within and among species
Predator-prey interactions, inter- and intra-specific competition, and parasites and pathogens influence the survival, growth, and reproductive success of anadromous and marine fishes, marine mammals and other marine organisms. Moreover, anthropogenic stressors, such as pollution and fishing, can influence these interactions. Because of the complex nature of these interactions, addressing questions about ecological interactions will require novel field and laboratory studies and analyses. This includes ecosystem models, use of innovative technologies (e.g., otolith microchemistry and stable isotopes), integration of sample collection efforts with those of the Ocean Observing System entities on the west coast, and quantifying interactions among environmental stressors, species behavior and ecosystem processes.
Characterize relationships between habitat and ecosystem processes, climate variation, and the viability of organisms
Developing effective conservation and restoration strategies for species or populations requires a clear understanding of how ecosystem processes and climate change will influence the viability of organisms in the future. Key research needs include (1) evaluating the vulnerability of organisms and ecosystems to climate change and human impacts (e.g., fishing, pollution, land use), and (2) devising adaptation strategies that will help achieve conservation goals despite climate change and increasing human pressures. Understanding how climate change or trends in human impacts might influence organisms is based on an understanding of linkages between ecosystem processes, habitat conditions, and abundance, survival or demographics of organisms. This necessitates modeling influences of ecosystem processes on habitats and species, or developing models to examine influences of human pressures on population or ecosystem dynamics. With this foundation, vulnerability assessments can focus on understanding how interactions between climate change and human impacts influence vulnerability of species or populations. Adaptation strategies require knowledge of current conservation needs, predictions of how those needs might change as a result of climate change or future human impacts, and assessments of the robustness of alternative conservation strategies or techniques to climate trends.
Characterize the interaction between marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystem components
Although many species migrate between connected aquatic, marine, estuarine and freshwater environments they are commonly studied and managed as separate ecosystems. Environmental conditions in both marine and freshwater areas are strongly influenced by flows of water, sediment, organic matter and nutrients among ecosystems. Moreover, many threats (e.g., pollution, habitat loss, climate change, etc.) to marine organisms cross land-sea boundaries. Successful management of aquatic systems thus requires an understanding of linkages among ecosystems, including study of how specific habitats (e.g., headwaters, floodplains, submerged aquatic vegetation, nearshore zones, plumes and frontal regions) contribute to the productivity and capacity of ecosystems, and how to prioritize ecosystem protection or restoration within the context of the entire freshwater-estuarinemarine ecosystem.
Characterize the population biology of species, and develop and improve methods for predicting the status of populations
To evaluate species status and recovery, it is necessary to understand key aspects of the population biology of the species in question. This includes basic information on abundance, age structure, recruitment, spatial distribution, life history and how the species interacts with its ecosystem. For some recovering species, including most overfished groundfish stocks, many ESA-listed Pacific salmon stocks, and high profile species such as Southern Resident killer whales, this basic information is often reasonably well understood. For other recovering species, such as Pacific eulachon and some ESA-listed rockfish species, even basic information (e.g. stock abundance) is unknown. Even for well-studied species, key information on survival rates for critical life stages and how the environment affects these vital rates is lacking. Without basic information on species dynamics, achieving other goals such as quantifying relationships between human activities and species recovery or even knowing if species recovery goals are being met will not be successful. The NWFSC, in partnership with regional stakeholders, including states, tribes and industry, is conducting research to collect and monitor critical demographic information for recovering species.
Develop methods to use physiological, biological and behavioral information to predict population-level processes
Understanding the biological processes occurring within organisms is a powerful way of understanding how environmental changes affect those organisms. Genetics, developmental, physiological and behavioral studies all provide important information for effective species recovery and rebuilding. Integrating this information into models is vital to predict how populations will respond to natural or human perturbations, and to assess the constraints to stock rebuilding efforts. For example, data on thermal tolerance and physiological responses to temperature can be used to explore changes caused by shifts in climate on reproductive behavior and productivity, viability, movement, habitat selection, and population dynamics. Similarly, data on contaminants that impact physiological processes (immune system, growth, development, reproduction, and general health) are critical in determining how these compounds affect population dynamics. Data on biological responses of organisms to ocean acidification are useful for understanding how acidification may affect individual development and survival. The NWFSC collects such information for several species that are of concern, targets of fisheries or otherwise important for overall ecosystem function. NWFSC scientists will continue to expand current efforts and develop methods to incorporate physiological, biological and behavioral data into population models in order to predict population-level processes from these individual level data.
Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management
Fisheries scientists and managers recognize the potential for ecosystem-based management to improve sustain the delivery of ecosystem goods and services, including sustainable fisheries resources. An Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) is one approach that examines all available information on relevant physical, chemical, ecological and human processes in relation to specified ecosystem management objectives. IEAs provide an efficient, transparent means of summarizing the status of ecosystem components, screening and prioritizing potential risks, and evaluating alternative management strategies against a backdrop of environmental variability. To perform IEAs of major ecosystems will require development of project components, including new and existing data, to develop a suite of indicators that characterize the ecosystem. Careful assessment of ecosystem indicators will provide a powerful means for assessing management efficacy and a basis for adapting and improving management practices. A major focus will be to produce the initial IEA of the California Current LME and then provide annual updates.
Understand how climate influences ecosystem variability
Effective ecosystem management will require an understanding of how climate variability and climate change will alter riverine, estuarine, and marine habitats and consequently how this will affect ecosystem status, function and recovery. Key research elements include better understanding of historical ecological variability through traditional (i.e., indigenous) sources, exploring the vulnerability of key species and biotic communities to expected habitat changes, including decreasing stream flow, increased flood frequency, increasing stream temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification, shifts in ocean currents, and changed frequency and extent of deoxygenated zones. A secondary goal is to improve understanding of how ecosystems respond to year-to-year and decadal climate variability. Achieving these research goals will provide NOAA and state and local governments with the knowledge and tools needed to incorporate climate change and variability into management of living marine resources.


Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management
demersal fish
near-bottom species
fishery independent
fishery independent data collect
groundfish survey
annual bottom trawl survey


A comparative analysis of food habits for several Northeast Pacific rockfishes (Sebastes sp.), using gut contents and stable isotopes.
Assessing reproductive strategies in marine fishes: applications to management
Completion of that portion of the 2024 survey that occurs in FY25
Cruise Report for 2021 survey
Data available for some assessments
Diet structure of multiple rockfish species based on stomach contents and stable-isotope analysis.
Final survey data from 2021 for use in future assessments
Metadata for 2024 survey added to FNSSS
Multiple presentations at WGC, Center Science Symposium etc.
Numerous Presentations Planned - will be added as they occur
Permit reports to SRP, CA, OR, WA Sanctuaries and Protected Species
Relating groundfish distribution to climate variability
Sablefish growth in relation to Pyrosomes
Various outreach projects planned - including infographics, blogs, education and service
completion of that portion of the 2024 survey that occurs in FY24


Family Dasyatidae
sting rays
Family Myliobatidae
eagle rays, manta rays
Family Rhinobatidae
Family Squalidae
dogfish sharks
Family Torpedinidae
electric rays
Family Triakidae
Species Albatrossia pectoralis
giant grenadier, pectoral rattail
Species Alepocephalus tenebrosus
Species Anoplopoma fimbria
Species Antimora microlepis
Pacific flatnose
Species Apristurus brunneus
brown cat shark
Species Apristurus kampae
Species Atheresthes stomias
arrow-tooth flounder, arrowtooth flounder
Species Bathyraja abyssicola
abyssal skate
Species Bathyraja aleutica
Aleutian skate
Species Bathyraja interrupta
sandpaper skate
Species Bathyraja trachura
roughtail skate
Species Bothrocara brunneum
twoline eelpout
Species Centroscyllium nigrum
Species Cephaloscyllium ventriosum
swell shark
Species Citharichthys sordidus
Pacific sanddab
Species Coryphaenoides acrolepis
roughscale rattail
Species Embassichthys bathybius
deepsea sole
Species Eopsetta jordani
petrale sole
Species Eptatretus deani
black hagfish
Species Eptatretus stoutii
Pacific hagfish
Species Gadus macrocephalus
Pacific cod
Species Galeorhinus galeus
sweet william, tope, tope shark
Species Genyonemus lineatus
white croaker
Species Glyptocephalus zachirus
rex sole
Species Hexanchus griseus
bluntnose sixgill shark, six-gill shark, six-gilled shark, sixgill shark
Species Hippoglossoides elassodon
flathead sole
Species Hydrolagus colliei
ratfish, spotted ratfish
Species Lampetra tridentata
Pacific lamprey
Species Lepidopsetta bilineata
rock sole
Species Lycenchelys crotalinus
Species Lycodes cortezianus
bigfin eelpout
Species Lycodes diapterus
black eelpout
Species Lyopsetta exilis
slender sole
Species Merluccius productus
North Pacific hake, Pacific hake, Pacific hake, whiting
Species Microstomus pacificus
Dover sole
Species Mustelus californicus
gray smoothhound
Species Mustelus henlei
brown smoothhound
Species Myliobatis californica
bat ray
Species Ophiodon elongatus
Species Parmaturus xaniurus
filetail cat shark
Species Parophrys vetulus
English sole
Species Pleuronichthys decurrens
curlfin sole
Species Porichthys notatus
plainfin midshipman
Species Prionace glauca
blue shark
Species Psettichthys melanostictus
sand sole
Species Raja binoculata
big skate
Species Raja inornata
california skate
Species Raja rhina
longnose skate
Species Raja stellulata
starry skate
Species Scorpaena guttata
California scorpionfish
Species Sebastes aleutianus
rougheye rockfish
Species Sebastes alutus
Pacific ocean perch
Species Sebastes aurora
aurora rockfish, auroro rockfish
Species Sebastes babcocki
redbanded rockfish
Species Sebastes borealis
shortraker rockfish
Species Sebastes brevispinis
silvergray rockfish
Species Sebastes chlorostictus
greenspotted rockfish
Species Sebastes crameri
darkblotched rockfish
Species Sebastes dallii
calico rockfish
Species Sebastes diploproa
splitnose rockfish
Species Sebastes elongatus
greenstriped rockfish
Species Sebastes emphaeus
puget sound rockfish
Species Sebastes ensifer
swordspine rockfish
Species Sebastes entomelas
widow rockfish
Species Sebastes flavidus
yellowtail rockfish
Species Sebastes goodei
chilipepper, chilpepper
Species Sebastes helvomaculatus
rosethorn rockfish
Species Sebastes hopkinsi
squarespot rockfish
Species Sebastes jordani
shortbelly rockfish
Species Sebastes levis
Species Sebastes melanostomus
blackgill rockfish
Species Sebastes miniatus
vermilion rockfish
Species Sebastes paucispinis
Species Sebastes pinniger
canary rockfish
Species Sebastes proriger
redstripe rockfish
Species Sebastes reedi
yellowmouth rockfish
Species Sebastes rosaceus
rosy rockfish
Species Sebastes ruberrimus
yelloweye rockfish
Species Sebastes rufus
bank rockfish
Species Sebastes saxicola
stripetail rockfish
Species Sebastes semicinctus
halfbanded rockfish
Species Sebastes wilsoni
pygmy rockfish
Species Sebastes zacentrus
sharpchin rockfish, sharpchin rockfish
Species Sebastolobus alascanus
shortspine thornyhead
Species Sebastolobus altivelis
longspine thornyhead
Species Somniosus pacificus
Pacific sleeper shark
Species Squalus acanthias
picked dogfish, picky dog, piked dogfish, spiny dogfish, spurdog
Species Squatina californica
Pacific angel shark
Species Torpedo californica
Pacific electric ray
Species Zapteryx exasperata
banded guitarfish


Aaron Chappell
Aimee Keller
Principal Investigator
Curt Whitmire
Daniel Kamikawa
Douglas Draper
John Buchanan
John Harms
John Wallace
Keith Bosley
Melissa Head
Peter Frey
Victor Simon