Southeast Ecosystem Advisory Report

The overall goal of the Advisory is to increase stakeholder resiliency by deriving and publishing an innovative quarterly fisheries ecosystem advisory. This will aid the fishing community and the public sector resource management community in evaluating the effects of the changing environment on twelve economically and ecologically important fish species. This swift dissemination of near real-time data will allow the fishers and resource managers evaluate and respond appropriately to the apparent changes in distribution, catchability (availability and vulnerability), and catch of the fish.

Derived environmental statistics, such as monthly mean minimum and mean maximum water temperature (surface and bottom) will be used along with salinity, chlorophyll, wind and wave data. For this feasibility study, three fixed NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) buoys and C-Man stations are used to derive the local metocean indices, while satellite data (infrared, visible-ocean color), and the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) model output are used to derive the regional indices.

The environmental tolerances for the fish were derived from a literature review (Roffer and Hall, 2015, See to evaluate the apparent vulnerabilities to environmental change of the important commercial and recreational fishes in the South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean regions. It is provided as background material for the “Climate Variability and Fisheries Workshop: Setting Science Priorities for the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Caribbean Regions,” St. Petersburg Beach, FL, October 26-29, 2015.

Winter 2016-2017 Update

Summary update of the winter condition:

  • Sea surface temperature (SST) in the SE Atlantic Coastal Region in January 2016 were anomalously warm for most of the region except for a relatively small area surrounding Cape Canaveral and along the coast between St. Helena Sound, SC and Long Bay, NC. These cooler areas continued through January 2017, but only the areas by Georgetown, SC and Cape Fear, SC remained anomalously cool. However, the areas with anomalously high SST increased in magnitude.
  • Chlorophyll (Chl) levels for the December, January, and February period were near the mean except for the coastal areas of South Carolina where they were substantially higher than the climate mean.
  • Sea surface salinity patterns for this winter period were not particularly noteworthy except for the higher salinity anomalies between Cape Lookout and the Cape Hatteras, NC area. Noteworthy positive anomalies occurred off Brunswick, GA.

Southeast Winter 2016-2017 Physical Variables

NDBC buoys provide sea surface temperature, significant wave height, wind speed and direction data on an hourly basis. The buoys are selected for this study on the basis that they contain the longest (1976 onwards) in-situ data records for deriving environmental indices for SST, winds and waves. They also provide a good along-shelf distribution and are relatively evenly spaced in a northeast – southwest direction. Matching MODIS chlorophyll and HYCOM salinity and bottom temperature data for these locations supplement the data set.

Monthly mean, anomaly, minimum and maximum values for these variables are derived from these data, showcasing the current conditions that are affecting the twelve target species selected for this feasibility study.

Buoy Locations

The data from these buoys provide the longest along continental shelf (along shelf) data set for evaluating the effects of the ocean environment on the local fisheries that extend from South Carolina to North Carolina. Future studies may consider the remaining data from the other buoys. This will be determined by the public’s demand for these data analyses.