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Big Data, Big Opportunity

Jan 10, 2020
Winter 2020

Our collective ability to accurately assess and forecast fish abundance is critical to the biological and economic sustainability of the Gulf of Maine.

In the past, fisheries managers and fishermen alike have relied on fisheries data to help them understand fish abundance, species mix, and location. However, rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine requires the integration of climate, oceanographic, ecosystem, and fisheries data to understand how climate change will influence these factors.

As part of a new research project, a working group led by GMRI Research Scientist Dr. Lisa Kerr will explore new ways to integrate climate and fisheries data to make more accurate predictions about commercially important species.

The project is one of only 43 in the nation to be selected for funding as part of the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program, which applies a Silicon Valley business accelerator model to science.

“The Convergence Accelerator program asks us to merge data and ideas from different disciplines to solve a problem of national importance,” said Dr. Kerr. “Our case is that the U.S. makes million-dollar decisions about fisheries every year, but those decisions are based on only a fraction of the data.”

This multi-institution collaboration involves external partners from Rutgers, Cornell, and NOAA, as well as a mix of GMRI researchers and community team staff. The project team is also working with fishermen, managers, and seafood businesses in the region to better understand industry needs. 

“As waters warm, we know fish populations are going to respond,” said Dr. Kerr. “The more accurately we can predict this behavior, the better we can support the fishermen and fisheries managers who rely on good data to make decisions.”

This project is part of our new climate center, which leverages our interdisciplinary expertise to identify solutions to local, regional, and global challenges related to ocean warming.