Mote Receives Federal Grant to Study Highly Migratory Sharks As Part of New Consortium

The Giving Coast

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Mote Marine Laboratory is bringing its long history of shark expertise to a new consortium studying highly migratory species, thanks to new funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant program. The Pelagic Ecosystem Research Consortium (PERC) will have a goal of improving stock assessment, management and sustainability of highly migratory species, such as tuna, swordfish and sharks, in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. PERC is being led by the University of Maine, with partners from Mote Marine Laboratory, Nova Southeastern University and Auburn University.

The PERC award was one of three competitive grants totaling $2 million, awarded through the 2019 Sea Grant Highly Migratory Species Research Initiative. More information about the national initiative is on the NOAA Fisheries website. This new Sea Grant initiative was championed by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who together recognized the national need for this research.

PERC will conduct projects in five areas of research focused on bycatch reduction, increased understanding of life history, post-release mortality and other objectives for multiple species of highly migratory fish in the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Comprehensive information on the life history of highly migratory species is lacking, including data on age, growth, indices of abundance, reproduction, post-release and natural mortality, infectious disease, anthropogenic disturbance, habitat utilization/migratory behavior and stock structure.

Research by the consortium is expected to fill gaps in information that will reduce uncertainty in stock assessment models and population status, and inform appropriate quotas to promote sustainability. Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research is leading the shark component of PERC’s objectives.

Pictured: Dr. Bob Hueter, Director of Mote's Center for Shark Research, applies a satellite tag to a bull shark during a study in 2016. Bull sharks are one of the migratory shark species that PERC will focus on. Photo credit: Olivia Raney / Mote Marine La

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