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Counting the Fish in the Sea
The Story of the NEAMAP Survey Trawls

by Carolyn & George Miller ©2013, Hard Cover, ISBN: 978-1-935232-77-3, 32 pp


Counting the Fish in the Sea, a non-fiction book for children ages 8-12 written by Carolyn Miller, tells the true story of how scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are working on the Northeast Atlantic Monitoring Assessment Program (NEAMAP) to literally count the fish in the ocean. Filled with actual photographs, you will be fascinated by this remarkable journey and the important impact the data collected has on the fishing industry.


How many fish in the sea?

How many fish can there be?

Do you want to find out

How the scientists count?

Read along with me and you’ll see.


Come along on this exciting journey and learn how scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, working on the Northeast Atlantic Monitoring and Assessment Program (NEAMAP), are actually COUNTING THE FISH IN THE SEA.

Introduction for Adults

How many fish in the sea and how do you count them?


The problem with developing and implementing good fishing regulations is the difficulty involved in securing data that gives an accurate understanding about stock assessments. All too often what environmentalists and legislators say and the actual experience of commercial and recreational fishers, varies greatly.


The Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (NEAMAP) is a state and federal program whose mission is the collection and management of fisheries-independent data. This information does not rely on any commercial or recreational reporting and is gathered in a scientific manner.


In fall, 2006, NEAMAP, working with research scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), did its first pilot study. Since then a spring trawl and an autumn trawl have been done every year.


A map of the area from Martha's Vineyards to Cape Hatteras, N.C. was subjected to a random design broken into longitudinal and depth variations, creating stations and a standardized protocol developed for every stop (station). A specially designed trawl net is pulled for exactly twenty minutes and once the catch is pulled up, it is quickly sorted by species and counted; then the fish are returned to the sea ALIVE.


A few pre-selected specimen are kept for side studies in the laboratory located onboard the research vessel. Data is gathered from fish scales and otoliths (ear bones) to determine if one or the other is a better indicator of age. Genetic analysis tracks any bacteria and skin lesions. A water quality measuring device determines how varying conditions in the sea affect the catch. The team tags all sharks and Atlantic sturgeon. All this information is needed for accurate stock assessment. The scientists take this information back to the Institute for analysis.


The final results are used by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC), the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC), and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) a part of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).


Improvements in the collection of fisheries-independent data like NEAMAP is providing a more accurate understanding of the status of life in the Atlantic Ocean leading to improvements in fisheries management. This information should translate to more realistic and accurate decisions.


NEAMAP is a project of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia. Lead Scientist on this trawl: Jim Gartland.



Introduction for Children

Have you ever gone fishing in the ocean? It's really great fun! Jessi was excited when she caught her first flounder. Everyone was so happy for her. Pop helped her remove the hook and she put the fish in the ice chest. A little while later Gwyneth caught a flounder, too, but she had to put her flounder back in the ocean. It was too small to keep. She was very disappointed. On that same trip, Natalie caught a fish called a tautog (tog). It was big and fat but she had to put that one back, too. It was not the right season to catch that species.


When you go fishing, you need to know the rules about each fish. Government agencies and scientists make regulations that help protect each species of fish. If we carelessly catch too many fish, a species could become endangered. This is called overfishing.


Those who make these rules need to get information about the number and health of the fish. This book tells the story of how the scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science work on a project called NEAMAP that is actually Counting the Fish in the Sea and providing information that will help make good laws.


As you travel along with the scientists in this book, keep in mind that the goal is to return the fish back to the sea alive.



“Carolyn Miller’s new book is a fun and educational read for children and is sure to CATCH the interest of readers of all ages.”

Captain Zig, First Fish Adventures, Pier 88, Sea Isle City, NJ


“Any child who is interested in the future of fishing will appreciate this opportunity to learn how real life data is used by fishery managers to make more informed decisions.”

Captain Dick Herb, Charter fishing boat operator for over 35 years in Avalon, NJ; Member, NJ Marine Fisheries Council since 2005


“The book is very interesting because we had no idea that that kind of science existed or that you could even try to count the fish in the ocean.”

Harrison, age 8 and Jackson, age 6


A terrific story explaining how scientists unearth the secrets of the sea and how important good science is to the fishing industry. Children of every age will be fascinated.

Jason Hearon,Fisheries Biologi

Carolyn Miller has over 30 years of experience in a variety of educational settings including teaching on a Sioux Indian reservation and at an international school in Beirut, Lebanon. Carolyn loves writing and fishing and writes a weekly fishing column, “The Fishing Line,” in the Cape May County Herald.


George Miller is a retired federal agent. Carolyn and George live in Cape May County and are the parents of four adult children and grandparent of eight. 

Counting the Fish in the Sea

  • Counting the Fish in the Sea
  • Counting the Fish in the Sea

Price: $16.95

Carolyn & George Miller




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