The group's meeting last week at the Marine Institute in Galway, Ireland, attracted 93 participants from 21 countries.
The major themes addressed during the meeting included behaviour, acoustic properties of marine organisms, emerging technologies, methodologies, and protocols, as well as applications of acoustic methods to characterize ecosystems.
All in all 58 presentations highlighted the wide range of applications of acoustics for ecosystem characterization and monitoring, as well as for abundance surveys. Advancing acoustic technology and alternative sampling platforms (e.g. autonomous vehicles, ocean observatories) have led to increases in the volume of acoustic data being collected. This has created opportunities for wider ecosystem research, but also challenges for data processing and storage.
Several presentations highlighted research and increasing applications of acoustic wideband technologies. The group has organised three ICES training courses on the principles and methods of broadband and wideband technologies with another planned for December 2019.
Wideband systems are expected to replace the current standard narrowband scientific echosounders, and recent research quantified the impact of this change on abundance surveys.
There is an increasing interest in using acoustics to characterize and monitor other ecosystem components, particularly mesopelagic organisms. Mesopelagic resources are large, relatively poorly known, and there is considerable interest in commercial exploitation. Presentations highlighted challenges for acoustics, and the need to apply multiple complementary technologies (acoustics, optics, net sampling) to improve our understanding.
A workshop on the development of practical survey methods for measurements and monitoring in the mesopelagic zone (WKMesoMeth) was held in conjunction with last week's WGFAST meeting.
The meeting also included a joint session with the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO) Habitat Modelling Working Group with 7 presentations from scientists from Peru and Chile. The Ambassador of Peru to Ireland, Ms Ana Sánchez, also visited the meeting.
Read more about the work of WGFAST
WGFASTs work contributes to ICES science priorities Emerging techniques and technologies and Observation and exploration as their work focuses on the science and technologies used to observe the marine environment.
Find out more about ICES science priorities
The Ambassador of Peru to Ireland, Ms Ana Sánchez, visited the WGFAST meeting at the Marine Institute in Galway.