Spawning Aggregations

Full Title: Cooperative monitoring program for spawning aggregations in the Gulf of Mexico: an assessment of existing information, data gaps and research priorities

This project will identify fish spawning aggregation areas in the Gulf of Mexico to provide the basis for fisheries research and conservation programs.

The Team: Brad Erisman (Lead Investigator, The University of Texas at Austin,, William Heyman (LGL Ecological Research Associates, Inc.) and Shinichi Kobara (Texas A&M University), Mandy Karnauskas (NOAA), Nick Farmer (NOAA), Susan Lowerre-Barbieri (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), and Jorge Brenner (The Nature Conservancy)

Technical Monitor: Nick Farmer (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

This project began in September 2015 and will end in August 2018.

Award Amount: $391,021

Why we care: Fish spawning aggregations are a key component to maintaining a sustainable fish population. However, very little is known about where the aggregations occur or the behavior of these aggregations. Both commercial and recreational fishermen are concerned that they are unknowingly targeting these sites and this could lead to reduced fish populations.

What we are doing: This project will compile and evaluate existing information on fish spawning aggregations in the Gulf of Mexico as the basis to design a cooperative, Gulf-wide conservation and monitoring program focused on fish spawning aggregations. The investigators will first compile existing biological and fisheries information for Gulf of Mexico species known or likely to form spawning aggregations and identify existing datasets and monitoring programs in the Gulf of Mexico that could inform regional monitoring of spawning aggregations. The investigators will then synthesize this information and convene a regional workshop where stakeholders can review it and prioritize a suite of species, habitats, monitoring methods, and areas of research moving forward. The investigators will also engage in a comprehensive outreach and data-sharing program to ensure all data and project outputs are available to inform management.

Expected Outcome: The results of this synthesis of information on fish spawning aggregations will identify potential hotspots for aggregations. This will inform managers as they develop their next steps for monitoring and potentially managing these aggregations. This information will also be incorporated into the stock assessment process for fishery management.

Other Resources: The project data are available online:


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