Training courses

Introduction to abundance estimation from fisheries acoustic surveys

12–16 June 2017
Application deadline: 5 May 2017

ICES Secretariat, Copenhagen, Denmark


Fisheries acoustics surveys use scientific echosounders to estimate the abundance and distribution of a variety of marine fauna (i.e. fish and macrozooplankton). The technique has a 100 year history with applications expanding from inputs to stock assessments of important commercial fish species, krill and forge fish, to ecological and monitoring applications that include understanding recruitments, fish behaviour, and ecosystem processes.  


​This course introduces the principles of fisheries acoustics and the fundamental steps required to design, conduct and analyze data to estimate the abundance and distribution of marine fauna.  A case study will use an example fish stock for the design of a survey and simulated results will be used to estimate the abundance at age of the fish stock using the R statistical programming language (computer code will be provided to demonstrate the steps required to estimate the abundance at age).  These results represent outputs required for inputs to ICES stock assessments, and are typically used in marine ecology studies using high resolution, spatio-temporal indexed datasets.  


​Participating students should be numerate with a working knowledge of the R statistical programming language.  The course is aimed at would-be cruise leaders, data analysts, data coordinators, graduate students, stock assessment scientists, and fishers wishing to understand the use of acoustic technologies as a remote sensor, and population abundance/biomass estimates used in stock assessments of commercially important fish or invertebrate species.  


​​The course will span Monday afternoon through Friday morning.  Each morning will consist of lectures and/or discussion topics, followed by practical sessions in the afternoon.

Lecturers and discussions will use a combination of the textbook Fisheries Acoustics (Simmonds and MacLennan, 2005) and scientific literature.  Lecture topics include physical principles, survey design, target classification, calibration, and analytical methods.  

​Practical sessions consist of three separate exercises.  The first practical is how to design an acoustic surveys and will use a calculator, ruler, pencil and some blank maps.  The second practical uses Echoview software to pre-process and process raw acoustic data (licenses will be provided during the course).  Data outputs from that exercise will be used in conjunction with R program scripts to derive abundance at age estimates for the example fish stocks.

Each student should bring a laptop computer capable of running Echoview and the R statistical package software (minimum i5 chip, 8MB RAM, 500 GB hard disk), and a copy of Fisheries Acoustics ​(Simmonds and MacLennan, 2005). 


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Dr Paul G Fernandes​​, MASTS Reader in Fisheries Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen

Professor John K. Horne, Professor in Aquatic and Fishery Science, School of Aquatic and Fishery Science, University of Washington

Course Fee:

750 Euros ​for ICES member country affiliated participants

1250 Euros for non-member country affiliated participants 

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Introduction to abundance estimation from fisheries acoustic surveys

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