SMAST Video Technology Shows Promise to Improve Groundfish and Flat Fish Stock Surveys
Dr. Kevin Stokesbury of SMAST is working to improve groundfish and flat fish stock surveys using video data collection
Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, whose work in developing the SMAST Scallop Video Survey was essential to transforming scallop surveys in the 1990s, is collaborating again with the fishing industry, NOAA Fisheries, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, SIMRAD, and his colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) to improve groundfish and flat fish stock surveys using video data collection. This new method shows promise to improve accuracy by increasing spatial coverage and to allow the conducting of surveys without fish mortality.
A recent test of the video technology on Atlantic yellowtail flounder showed potential to greatly increase data collection compared to conventional methods. The method uses a modified net that, instead of catching fish, funnels them through an opening while video is shot by an attached underwater digital camera. This enables continuous, and thorough sampling for longer periods of time than a traditional collection survey.Image of the modified net and video camera taken aboard F/V Justice prior to the survey's departure. Photo courtesy of SMAST
Increasing data quantity lowers the margin of error and improves confidence in the assessment. Also, because the video survey greatly decreases fish mortality, it is particularly advantageous for surveying species with low allocations, like cod.
The survey has been supported by members of the groundfish and scallop industries, who provided equipment, funding, and time for the yellowtail survey. NOAA also cooperated by issuing the necessary permits and providing a scientist with similar technological experience to help conduct the survey. SIMRAD provided two technicians and the video camera system.Net maker, Tor Bendiksen of Reidar's Manufacturing,
helping attach the camera onto the net.
Photo courtesy of SMAST.
Footage from the SMAST survey digital camera showing flat fish passing through the modified net.
May also marked the beginning of hard-hitting groundfish allocation cuts that are expected to take a serious toll on the commercial fishing industry. Recently members of the industry and scientific community have expressed doubt in the accuracy of current stock assessments. Many of the survey procedures have not been updated since the early 1960s. Along with more advanced technology, Dr. Stokesbury is incorporating "what fishermen know" into his changes as industry input was vital for his transformative scallop video surveys.
March 31, 2015 -- NOAA has been bearing the cost of all at-sea monitoring in the groundfishing fishery where there is no dockside monitoring, yet the federal government has been looking to pawn off the cost of its monitors onto the working fishermen since the program began — and that is no run-of-the-mill cost.
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