The Cornell Cooperative Extension’s marine program has received two grants, one to further its work to bring back this area’s scallop industry, the other to determine if there is more than a single monkfish population along the East Coast.
In 2005, in cooperation with Long Island University, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s marine program created protected areas that have helped to increase the success of bay scallops’ spawning seasons.
Last week, the extension received a $182,900 grant to expand the scallop spawner program. The grant was part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s regional council initiative. The program has the support of the Long Island Regional Economic Council and the Empire State Development Corporation.
Before a series of brown algae tides killed off scallops and other shellfish beginning in the mid-1980s, the Peconic scallop fishery kept between 400 to 600 baymen and shuckers busy. The Peconic scallop industry, the largest in the nation at one time, contributed an estimated $10 million to the Suffolk County economy before the fall, and after the economic multipliers were added.
Cornell Cooperative Extension has also received a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s cooperative research program to study genetic variations in monkfish.
The study, which will sample monkfish stocks from Newfoundland to North Carolina, aims to determine whether the coastwide population is comprised of one or more separate stocks. Monkfish make up a valuable contribution to the New England and Mid-Atlantic seafood industry. In 2010, landings had a market value of nearly $19 million.
The project, with its fishermen collaborators, will evaluate sampled monkfish using sensitive D.N.A. markers. New York University and Rutgers University are participating in the study. The Cooperative Extension does not receive direct funding for the study. Rather, NOAA allocates a number of fish from the overall monkfish quota that are sold to finance the research.