CFRF Lobster Research Fleet Pilot Project: On-Deck Data Program

ANNOUNCEMENT: Upcoming Meeting to Discuss 2015 Ocean Conditions - February 4th, 1:30PM, CFRF Conference Room, Kingston, Rhode Island

Click HERE for RI Public Radio story on the CFRF Lobster Research Fleet!



(as of January 14, 2016)




(as of January 14, 2016)

General Description

The CFRF Lobster Research Fleet Pilot Project (known as the "On-Deck Data Program") focuses on testing methods to improve the collection and management of fishery dependent data.  Specifically, the pilot program is designed to explore  and test new technologies that will enable lobstermen fishing in Lobster Management Areas 2 and 3 to collect and relay much-needed biological data to managers and scientists monitoring the lobster stock in these areas.  The technologies being piloted in this project include: Android tablets, electronic calipers, and internet relay of data.  The project uses a lobster research fleet approach that includes six lobster fishing vessels in each management area, with vessels strategically chosen to provide area coverage. 

Pilot project data collection will be completed by the end of September 2015 and a final project report will be issued by end of the 2015 calendar year.


Participant Vessels:

  • F/V Ashley Ann - Point Judith, RI
  • F/V Bluemoon - Newport, RI
  • F/V Catherine Ann - Newport, RI
  • F/V Cailyn Grace - Sakonnet Point, RI
  • F/V Debbie Ann - Point Judith, RI
  • F/V Direction - Fairhaven, MA
  • F/V Erika Knight - Point Judith, RI
  • F/V Gladys Elaine - Newington, NH
  • F/V Karen Ann - Point Judith, RI
  • F/V Lady Clare - Point Judith, RI
  • F/V Miss Julie - Hyannis, MA
  • F/V Sakonnet Lobster II - Tiverton, RI
  • F/V Sherri & Deke - Fairhaven, MA



Data Collection Strategies:

Data collection is focused on 1) Retained and discarded lobsters, 2) Retained and discarded jonah crabs, and 3) Bottom water temperature. All data is collected, stored, and viewed on Android 10" Nexus tablets.

Lobster Data Collection:

Participant vessels sample a minimum of 300 lobsters or 60 commercial traps per month. Data for lobsters caught in a three ventless traps is also reported, and lobstermen have the option of entering notes about weather conditions, bycatch, habitat type, etc.

Lobster data parameters include:

  • Carapace length
  • Sex
  • Females - Egg bearing and/or V-notch
  • Severity of shell disease
  • Shell hardness
  • Retained/Discarded

The date/time, location, depth, soak time, statistical area, and number of traps processed are also recorded for each sampling event.

View the full On-Deck Data lobster data collection strategy here

Equipment being used:

  • Android 10" Google Nexus Tablet
  • DryCase waterproof tablet case
  • Custom-made "On Deck Data" App
    • Trawl Selection
    • Commercial Trap Sampling 
    • Ventless Trap Sampling
    • Reviewing and Uploading Data 
  • Mututoyo waterproof calipers

Sampling lobsters on the F/V Gladys Elaine

Jonah Crab Data Collection:

Jonah crab data collection is optional for all vessels. Those who choose to participate sample a minimum of 250 jonah crabs or 60 traps per month. Discarded and retained jonah crabs are sampled from commercial crab gear, commercial lobster gear, or ventless traps. 

Jonah crab measurement on the F/V Ashley Ann


Jonah crab data parameters include:

  • Carapace Width
  • Sex
  • Females - Egg bearing
  • Retained/Discarded

Trap configuration is recorded in coordination with biological sampling. The date/time, location, depth, soak time, statistical area, and number of traps processed are also recorded for each sampling event. 

View the On-Deck Data jonah crab data collection strategy here

Equipment being used:

  • Custom-made "On-Deck Data" app
    • Trawl Selection
    • Jonah Crab Sampling
    • Viewing Data 
    • Uploading Data
  • Modified Mituoyo waterproof calipers

Bottom Water Temperature Monitoring:  

Each vessel selects a fixed site within their normal fishing area to designate as a bottom temperature monitoring site for the time period of at least one month. Bottom water temperature data is collected and recorded over the course of the year in coordination with the On Deck Data lobster sampling practices of the fishing vessel. 

View the CFRF Lobster Research Fleet bottom water temperature data collection strategy here

Equipment being used includes: 

  • VEMCO Minilog II temperature sensor
  • VEMCO Field Reader
  • Custom-made "Ocean Temps" app
    • Retrieve temperature data via Bluetooth
    • Record location, date/time, and depth
    • Instantly view time series of temperature data
    • Record notes about monitoring area or time period
    • Wirelessly upload temperature data to CFRF database


Collaborative Approach:

The project is being approached as a collaborative endeavor among lobstermen, and state/regional/federal scientists with a Project Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the lobstermen who fish in Lobster Management Areas 2 and 3, state managers from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the M Division of Marine Fisheries, and staff from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Click here to view members of the Project Steering Committee.


Pilot Project Timeline:

  • Dec. 2012 - Jan. 2013 – Organization of Project Steering Committee, scheduling/implementation of first meeting; assembling of technical support team ; establishment of work agreements
  • Jan. 2013 – March 2013 –Continuation of Project Steering Committee work;  purchase of equipment; finalize data collection strategy; programming of tablets; establishment of data management system; selection and establishment of work agreements for study fleet vessels;
  • April 2013 – June 2013 – Beta testing period for tablets; revisions to programming if needed
  • June 2013 - Training sessions for lobster study fleet
  • June 2013 – May 2015 – Collection of field data; ongoing data compilation/synthesis; ongoing communication with fleet/managers
  • May 2015 – June 2015 – Drafting and finalizing of final report
  • April 2013 – June 2015 – Outreach on project

Data Summaries:

  • Bottom water temperature data summary (as of 3-7-15) - click here
  • Biological data summary (as of 2-25-15) - click here
  • Biological data Summary (as of 1-15-14)- click here

Additional Information:

  • September 16, 2014 Steering Committee Meeting Summary - click here
  • January 15, 2014 Fleet Meeting Summary - click here
  • Support Staff - click here 
  • Map of Lobster Management Areas 2 and 3 click here

Media Coverage: