9th U.S.-China LMR Panel Meeting Presentation PPTs and Summaries

Keith Chanon and Li Jilong jointly summarized the projects of the China-U.S. LMR Panel since it last met in June 2011.  Topics of mutual interest identified by the Panel members in 2011 included aquaculture, climate and ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, sea ranching, endangered species and habitat monitoring, assessment and restoration. 

On November 1-3, 2011, a workshop on “Habitat Monitoring, Assessment and Restoration of Reef Systems” was convened in Honolulu, HI.  The goal of the workshop was to exchange information and experience associated with monitoring, assessment, and restoration of reef systems and to identify opportunities for collaboration.  Agreement was reached for NOAA’s PIFSC to host two CAFS scientists (from the SCSFRI); one to work on Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) and the other to work on stock assessment methodologies.  The 1-month visits occurred in August 2012. 

On April 1, 2012, Dr. Christopher Brown attended a CAFS’ seminar on shellfish cultivation, classification, and pollutant monitoring in Beijing.  

On April 10, 2012, the China-U.S. Sea Turtle Workshop was held in Shanghai at the East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute.  The workshop facilitated the exchange of information and highlighted research priorities and potential joint projects. 

The U.S. and China continue to work together to better understand the biology and ecology of western gray whales.  Drs. Dave Weller and Robert Brownell from NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center are working with Dr. Qian Zhu from the State Oceanic Administration’s Institute of Oceanography to collect information on the occurrence and distribution of the whales and develop community outreach materials to support conservation efforts. 

For the future, the U.S. plans to organize a workshop in the summer of 2013 on the influence of oil spills on fisheries and their ecosystems.  Scientist exchanges will be planned between the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute (YSFRI) and Mote Marine Laboratories to study fishery resource enhancement methods.  NOAA will identify expertise to assist CAFS in utilizing remote sensing technologies to assess the impact of human development activities on coastal habitats and fisheries.  ECSFRI will apply for funding from the Chinese Nature Science Foundation to support a joint study on the abundance dynamics ofEuphausia pacifica in the East China Sea and to trace the reasons for low abundance and conduct a comparative study in the North Pacific.    

The presenters identified some challenges facing the LMR Panel:

  1. Lack of dedicated funds to support projects
  2. Need for raising the priority of joint activities within the government structures of each country
  3. Need for increased coordination on a routine basis.

Theme 1: 2012 Collaborative Research Projects and Activities Pursuant to the Theme (Leaders: Keith Chanon, Li Jilong)

Presentation 1.1: Dramatic Declines in Euphausia Pacifica Abundance in the East China Sea: Response to Global Warming (Prof. Zhang Dong, ECSFRI)

As with other marine ecosystems, water temperature has been anomalously warm in recent years in the East China Sea. However, the effects of the climate warming on this ecosystem are largely unknown. We analyzed historical data to explore the effects of climatic change on the abundance and distribution changes of Euphausia pacifica in the East China Sea (the Changjiang River estuary and its adjacent areas). In 1959, the highest abundance occurred in the spring and autumn; however, abundance was significantly reduced in 2002, markedly in spring. The greatest abundance of E. pacifica in the East China Sea occurred at regions with temperatures around 18 °C. Both inter-annual (between November 1959 and 2002) and inter-monthly (between May and June 1959) comparisons suggest that E. pacifica has had a temperature-driven northward movement since 1959. Euphausia pacifica was the numerically dominant euphausiid in the East China Sea in 1959. Its mean abundance was up to 1.64 ind/m3 in 1959; however, this figure decreased to 0.36 ind/m3 in 2002, and has been hard to find in the East China Sea since 2003. The decline of E. pacifica abundance is an associated response to global warming because of the steady climb of the temperature of surface water in the area since 1959. However, temperatures in the spring and fall in recent years (2003-2007) were still in the range of temperatures at which E. pacifica used to distribute but this southern limit distribution seems to be northward East China Sea. Hence, it still cannot completely explain the disappearance of the E. pacifica since 2003 with anomalous temperature.

Presentation 1.2: A Gray Whale Bycaught in Fujian Province, China (Dr. Wang Xianyan, SOA)

On November 5, 2011, a dead gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) entangled with set gillnet was found by fishermen at Pingtan, Fujian Province, China. Notably, this is the first incidental catch of gray whale in Fujian Province, as well as the first record in Chinese waters in the 21th century. This paper reports the external morphological characteristics and skeleton measurements of this incidentally caught gray whale. The gray whale is a female, its body length and weight are 1309cm and 21t respectively, which is the largest one stranded/bycaught in Chinese waters so far. The cranium of this gray whale is 281cm in length, 128cm in width, and 250kg in weight. Specifically, the vertebra, phalanx, rib and V-bone of this gray whale are different from those reported previously. More exactly, its vertebra arrangement is C7+T13+L13+Ca23=56 and phalanx arrangement is I1 II3, III7, IV5, V3. Besides, the gray whale has 14 pairs of ribs and 10 V-bones. These findings thus indicate that the skeleton of gray whale may vary across individuals. Finally, this paper also reviews the main threats to the Western North Pacific gray whale.

Presentation 1.3: China-US April 12, 2012 Sea Turtle Workshop -Status of Collaborative Activities

Keith Chanon presented on the joint collaboration on Sea Turtles.  He provided background including the interest from both countries to focus on green sea turtles, loggerheads, and leatherbacks, as identified at the 8th LMR Panel Meeting held June 2011.  Sea turtle scientists and managers from both countries held a workshop on April 10, 2012 in Shanghai at the ECSFRI.  Two priority research projects were identified at the workshop:

  1. Biology & ecology: develop proposal on a specific area/region to assess foraging ecology; and
  2. Distribution: analyze tagging data mapped to oceanographic parameters.

In addition to these priorities, nine additional projects of mutual interest were identified.

Participants at the April workshop also established a joint Sea Turtle Working Group to be led by Huang Honghui (SCFRI), Zhang Feiyan (Gangkou Sea Turtle Reserve), George Balazs (PIFSC) and Jeff Seminoff (SWFSC).

Following the workshop, NOAA supported an exchange with Zhang Feiyan, enabling her to visit the PIFSC for 10 days in September 2012 where she participated in sea turtle necropsies, capture activities, and saw foraging areas.  This visit enabled Zhang Feiyan and the U.S. team to further refine priorities for collaborative research.

Action Items:

The LMR Panel requests a workplan from the Joint Sea Turtle Working Group (by December 15, 2012) that advances work related to the top 2 priorities (within the general areas of foraging ecology and population distribution).  In addition, the Working Group should consider organizing a scientific staff exchange with U.S. scientists timed with the Guangdong Reserve annual release of sea turtles. 

Presentation 1.4: Manifestation of seasonal dynamics and yearly changes of lake and coastal wetland using remote sensing, GIS and spatio-temporal modeling across this fishery habitats (Dr. Wang Lin, CAFS)

Theme 2: Assessment of Efficacy of Reef Systems (Leaders: Gerard Dinardo, Zhuang Ping)

Presentation 2.1: New-style Artificial Reefs and Facilities for Culture and Stock Enhancement of Apostichopus japonicas (Prof. Yang Hongsheng, CAS)

Apostichopus japonicus (Selenka), belongs to Echinodermata and Holothuroidea. It is a typical temperate species which distributes from 35°N to 44°N throughout the Pacific Northwest. The adult inhabits rocky and sand pelitic submarine area, especially with seaweed. The production value of A. japonicus is the biggest of all the mariculture species in China. Pool and cofferdam aquaculture are traditional ways of A. japonicus aquaculture. People usually use some simple facilities (bricks, stones, nets, cages, etc.) to improve the sediments to build a suitable environment for A. japonicus to inhabit. A variety of new artificial reefs and facilities are developed for the purpose of improving water body utilization rate and harvest of A. japonicusOyster Shell Reef and Wave-proof Sinking Rope Culture Facility create suitable habitats and supply natural baits for A. japonicus in non-suitable regions. According to the research results of key parameters of the artificial reef and the habitat improving facilities, Multi-layer and Plate-type Reef is invented, which increases A. japonicus yield greatly. New System for Bottom Culture and Integrated three-floor artificial reef realize the ecological diversity of mariculture. Based upon comprehensive habitat and resource restoration methods, several new aquaculture models, such as coculture of sea grass-shellfish-sea cucumber in lagoon, coculture of macroalgae, abalone, sea cucumber in artificial reef zone, and coculture of algae, fish, sea cucumber around offshore island. Looking into the future, we need to strengthen academic exchanges between China and US scholars, and conduct some cooperative researches on Habitat and Resource Restoration and the Effect Evaluation Technology of Typical Bay.

Presentation 2.2: Contribution of the Construction of Artificial Reefs along the Shandong Coast of China to the Fisheries Carbon Sinks (Prof. Guan Changtao, YSFRI)

As a new fishery mode of low-carbon economy, the construction of artificial reefs and marine ranching has been given very high degree of importance along the coast of Shandong province of China. Since the year of 2000, the total investment on the construction of artificial reefs and marine ranching in the province is over 123 million USD. More than 8 million cubic meters of artificial reefs have been set up, which formed 155 artificial reef districts with total area of 14,500 hm². The new sustainable fishery production has been in certain scale and the economic and social effects are obvious. Moreover, with the new concept of carbon sink fishery being put forward in China, the contribution of the construction of artificial reefs and marine ranching to the carbon sinks has been studied and recognized gradually. As known to all, the construction of artificial reefs can create an new “little ecosystem” in the area where the primary production, the species and quantity of marine organisms increse a lot, which grately accelerated the carbon cycle in the large marine ecosystem. For instance, by harvesting the fishery resources for utilization large amount of carbon is taken away from the system. This presentation gives a general description of the researches and construction of artificial reefs in Shandong province and also discusses the factors and contribution of fishery carbon sinks in the area of artificial reefs.

Presentation 2.3: Stock Assessment Methodologies of Reef Systems and joint Analyses

Gerard DiNardo discussed the goals and activities of the recent scientist exchange between Dr. Qin Chuanxin of CAFS, South China Sea Fishery Research Institute and NOAA Fisheries, PIFSC, as well as ideas for advancing stock assessment methodologies that incorporate enhancement (stock and habitat) activities. The first half of Dr. Qin’s visit involved (1) data screening and mining activities, (2) plotting and mapping of survey data and (3) exploratory analyses. The latter half of his visit involved the development of an analytical framework for assessing the utility of stock and habitat enhancements, and preliminary analyses. Data requirements for advancing assessments were also discussed, including catch monitoring, CPUE time series, size (length or weight) structure, movement (connectivity) and stock enhancement statistics. The potential application of size-based approaches to assess fish stocks associated with artificial reefs in the Guangdong Province was discussed, which is an appropriate methodology in data limited situations.   

Presentation 2.4: Stock Assessment Methodologies of Reef Systems: A Case Study Using Yangmeikeng Artificial Reef (Speaker: Qin Chuanxin, SCSFRI)

Artificial reef construction were a useful way to restore coastal fishery resources. The rapid construction of artificial reef in Guangdong province was showed in recent years. Up to 2010, there were more than artificial reef area 180 km2 along Guangdong province’s coastal. However, compare with the scale of artificial reef the research on stock assassment of artificial reef construction were less. The typical subtropical gulf, Yangmeikeng artificial reef, was selected to evaluate the restoration of fishery resources. Conventional biomass method and regression tree with R software were used to primary analysis the artificial reef fishery resource data. The result showed that the significent effect of fishery resource increasion were showed. It provides significant context which may be useful in regonize artificial reef construction and fishery resource assessment.

Presentation 2.5: NOAA & CAFS Scientific Exchange on Autonomous Reef Monitoring Systems (ARMS) (speaker: Dr. Tang, Zhenzhao, SCSFRI)

  1. 1.       Background of this exchange program.

The exchange program was proposed in the U.S.-China Meeting on Living Marine Resources: Habitat Monitoring, Assessment and Restoration of Reef Systems Project held on November 2011 in Honolulu.

  1. 2.       Exchange Goals (Molly Timmers).

(1)     Learn how to deploy, recover, and conduct real-time processing on ARMS units.

(2)     Learn current procedures in post-processing of motile organisms from preserved bulk specimens obtain from ARMS units recovered in the U.S. Pacific Islands.

(3)     Learn how to obtain percent cover information from plate analysis on sessile communities.

(4)     Learn to process associated metadata.

(5)     Be exposed to the database system used to record and document all aspects of ARMS activities.

  1. 3.       Main work in CRED.

(1)     Learned to sort samples which were obtained from ARMS units recovered in the U.S.  Pacific Islands.

(2)     Learned to assemble ARMS.

(3)     Learned to assemble CAUS which were used to monitor the acidification.

(4)     Accumulated some experiences of ARMS, including deploy and recovery of ARMS.

  1. 4.       Application of ARMS in South China-Purpose and Plan

Purpose: monitoring diversity of community structure in Coral Reef area; monitoring diversity of community structure in Artificial Reef area; comparing the diversity character between natural and artificial reefs.

Plan: modification of ARMS design; submitted a proposal on ARMS to Ministry of Agriculture; have reached an initial collaborative intention on ARMS with Fishery Bureau of Shenzhen; Plan to conduct experimental deployment of ARMS in coral reef site and artificial reef site in Northern South China Sea, the optional sites include Zhujiang Kou, Beibu Bay, Yue Xi, Yue Dong and Sanya.

Theme 3: Marine Aquaculture, Including Use of Aquaculture to Support Fisheries (i.e. sea ranching and stock enhancement) (Leaders: David O'Brien, Yang Hongsheng)

Presentation 3.1: Science and Policy Initiatives for Sustainable Aquaculture in the U.S.

David O'Brien gave an overview of the U.S. science and policy on aquaculture. Aquaculture production in the United States has grown little in the past 20 years due to competition for coastal land, a long and difficult permitting process, and opposition from some environmental groups.  The U.S. now imports 86% of its seafood, despite having the largest EEZ in the world.  In 2011 NOAA released a new Aquaculture Policy that focuses on developing sustainable marine aquaculture to create jobs and protect the environment.  The NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture is working in several areas to implement this policy, including developing a more efficient permitting process and conducting research in key areas such as: modeling environmental impacts of aquaculture, shellfish disease research, and developing new aquaculture feeds for finfish.  NOAA is working with international collaborators on these research initiatives, and is interested in developing collaborations with Chinese researchers.

Presentation 3.2: Study and Integration of Technology of Modern Marine Ranching: Effect and Experiences of Construction in Zhangzidao Island Sea Area (Prof. Tian Tao, DOU)

Presentation 3.3: Alternative Feeds Research at NOAA

Ron Johnson presented NOAA's research on alternative feeds in aquaculture. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world today, and demand for feed ingredients, especially fishmeal and oil, has increased dramatically. In global terms, more than 3.7 million tons of fishmeal and 0.7 million tons of fish oil, representing 61% and 74% of total production, respectively, were used for aquaculture in 2008. Stocks of feed-grade pelagic species are currently managed at near-maximum levels of harvest, and supplies cannot increase in the future. Thus, alternative protein and oil sources are needed to supplement or replace fishmeal and oil in aquafeeds if further development of the aquaculture industry is to be sustained.  Nutrient-dense diets containing high levels of marine-derived meals and oils approximate the ideal protein and lipid profiles for farmed fish and are efficiently metabolized for energy and growth. Simultaneous replacement of both fishmeal and fish oil by terrestrial alternatives is problematic and total replacement of both has not yet been successful with marine finfish.  Nutritionists in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently sponsored the NOAA-USDA Alternative Feeds Initiative in the United States to systematically investigate the potential of various alternative feed ingredients for fish feeds.  This initiative takes a triple bottom line approach to evaluating alternative feed ingredients which takes into account the economic, environmental, and human health consequences of using an ingredient.  The four most promising types of alternative feed ingredients will be discussed. These include plant protein meals, by-product meals from ethanol production, animal processing by-product meals, and fish processing by-product meals. 

Presentation 3.4: Stock Enhancement - Joint China-US Activities: Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute & Mote Marine Laboratory Collaborative Fisheries Enhancement Initiatives (Ken Leber, NOAA)

Ken Leber, an Associate Vice President at Mote Marine Laboratory (MML) in Mote’s Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture, gave a presentation to the Panel on the science underlying some new stock-enhancement related collaborations the CAFS-Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute (YSFRI) and Mote Marine Laboratory have planned together. After a brief discussion of definitions of the various kinds of stocking to enhance fisheries, Leber announced a new LMR collaboration involving CAFS and US scientists that has resulted in planning for scientific exchanges between YSFRI and Mote, including exchanges of students or PostDocs between the two institutions and a joint YSFRI-MML project proposal, submitted in 2011 and recently funded by the China Ministry of Science and Technology. The project aims to research key technologies needed for rebuilding declining fisheries stocks and their habitat, and improve the assessment system needed to measure, control and ensure success of enhancement effects on declining fishery stocks in China. Leber explained that the project is based around “A Responsible Approach to Marine Stock Enhancement,” a prescription for a more careful approach to designing and conducting fisheries enhancement programs, first published by Lee Blankenship and Leber in 1995 and recently updated with co-author Kai Lorenzen and published in Reviews in Fisheries Science in 2010. Leber described the basic approach and quantitative measures needed, and emphasized the basic need for enhancement efforts to be well integrated with other forms of fisheries management, with close involvement of stakeholders in the planning and execution of enhancements, and with attention to the institutional framework needed to manage and conduct enhancements. Beyond the project planning already underway, next steps require securing funding to support scientist and student exchanges (~$15,000 each), and increasing LMR member attendance at scientific symposiums on marine fisheries enhancements (eg. such as the special sessions on stock enhancement at World Aquaculture Society conferences).

Theme 4: Next Step for the Living marine Resources Panel Meeting (Leaders: Ned Cyr, Liu Qing)

Presentation 4.1: US-China Science Symposium and Staff Exchanges

Gerard DiNardo discussed the history, structure and goals of the Scientific Exchange Program (SEP), as well as recent activities and future plans. Initially established in 2009 between NOAA Fisheries, PIFSC and Shanghai Ocean University (SHOU), the objective of the SEP is to foster scholarly exchange and training in the fishery and ecological disciplines, as well as promoting scientific collaborations. Two activities comprise the SEP, a Visiting Scientist and Visiting Student Program and a Scientific Seminar Series. The Visiting Scientist and Visiting Student Program is intended to support international exchanges by providing a mechanism to promote scientific training, while cultivating scientific collaborations among U.S. and Chinese scientists. Scientific priorities will be discussed and adopted during regular meetings of the Living Marine Resource (LMR) Panel, or at alternative venues as necessary. A three-year operating plan is recommended, and exchanges would last from 1 month for visiting students, to as much as 1 year for visiting scientists. The proposed seminar series provides a unique opportunity to address exciting new interdisciplinary areas of research and development. Seminars would convene every two years, thus providing adequate planning horizons for participates. Seminar topics would be discussed and adopted two years prior to the scheduled seminar during regular meetings of the Living Marine Resource (LMR) Panel, or at alternative venues as necessary. Presentations would include all scientific research conducted under the US-PRC Marine & Fisheries Science & Technology Protocol, and other research deemed pertinent. Two seminars have been convened, April 2009 and April 2012, coving a variety of topics including fishery bycatch, turtle biology, HMS stock assessment and socioeconomic modeling, and fish biology and ecology. Activities of the Visiting Scientist and Visiting Student Program was discussed, including the visits of two scientists from the South China Sea Fisheries Research Institute to the NOAA, Fisheries PIFSC in August 2012. Future plans of the SEP were presented including a scientific seminar in 2014 and scientist exchanges in 2013. It was recommended that all scientist exchanges within LMR fall under the umbrella of the SEP.