Where have we come to with the collection of acoustic data from fishing vessels?
Over the years 2003-2005, the ICES Study Group on the Collection of Acoustic Data from Fishing Vessels (SGAFV) evaluated the collection of acoustic data from fishing vessels and provided recommendations on future use. This work resulted in an ICES Cooperative Research Report 287 in 2007 summarizing the state of play. We are now around 10 years on, and we would like to take stock of the developments that have taken place since.
It is broadly recognized that long-term and broad spatial scale monitoring of the aquatic environment is a key component of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management and invaluable for studies on the effects of climate change. Although government funding sources for monitoring of biological and aquatic processes is increasingly limited and often not consistent, the mandate for collecting aquatic and fisheries data has increased. Technological advances in the last few decades have made aquatic ecosystem monitoring less expensive through the development of affordable high-quality sensors. However, a large portion of the costs of collecting aquatic and fisheries data remains in deploying and retrieving sensors and funding technicians. Sustainable aquatic ecosystem monitoring will depend on affordable solutions to this issue and on having commitment within the fisheries to support long-term and broad spatial scale data collection projects.
One way in which both concerns can be addressed is by developing collaborative data collection projects with people living and working in the environment. Thousands of viable sensor platforms in the form of commercial fishing vessels and commercial acoustic buoys are working on the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers, some of which already have scientific grade sensors installed from which data could be collected. Not only does the use of commercial fishing vessels and buoys as sampling platforms reduce costs of data retrieval, but where multiple fishing vessels are included, a more synoptic view of an ecosystem is possible. In addition fishers are in the environment throughout a fishing season and therefore able to collect data at broader temporal and spatial scales than most standard survey efforts. Data collection involving fishers can provide opportunities to investigate seasonal and spatial processes at a wider range of resolutions than possible through periodic surveys or sparse arrays of moorings. However building and maintaining collaborative relationships between researchers and fishers while ensuring suitable data quality requires substantial planning, effort, and clear communication on the part of all involved.
This session is intended to provide a forum for researchers, fishers and other stakeholders to present and discuss the development and results of cooperative acoustic monitoring projects. The panel discussion and presentations during the session will address those issues specific to planning and communication necessary for collaborative acoustic and other aquatic monitoring projects, and highlight technology that allows such projects to be successful. By including both researchers, fishers and other stakeholders in the session we hope to foster a better understanding among the participants of what is possible through cooperative research and how to better foster and sustain working relationships among all stakeholders.
Photo: Stuart Gregor, Marine Scotland Image Bank