Development of Underwater Sonar as a Technique for Assessment and Classification of Pelagic Fish in Rhode Island
Principal Investigator: Austin Humphries (URI CELS/GSO)
Collaborators: Jason McNamee (RI DEM), Matt Zimmerman (FarSounder, Inc.), Jeremy Collie (URI GSO), Mike Jech (NOAA – NMFS)
Funding Source: Rhode Island Research Alliance
Estimating the number of individual fish in a given stock is one of the most fundamental yet challenging aspects of fisheries management. In Rhode Island, Atlantic menhaden and herring are commercially important pelagic fisheries that support a large industry, yet management is difficult because reliable and adequate data are lacking; while existing fisheries surveys do a good job of sampling bottom-dwelling species, they are poorly suited for accurately assessing pelagic species. New technology that can reliably estimate pelagic fish biomass and identify species would lead to better fisheries management. Furthermore, such technologies would be useful for the fishing industry to reduce bycatch and thus save time and money.
The overarching goal of this coordinated effort is to develop a methodology using hydroacoustic sonar products aimed specifically at estimating pelagic fish biomass and identifying species. To achieve this goal, we will build on interrelated tasks that test and ground-truth the application of 3-dimensional forward-looking sonar. The results from our project will improve local foodweb models and Rhode Island fisheries management by establishing a pilot pelagic fish survey for Narragansett Bay, as well as further the development of new products that will strengthen Rhode Island’s economic position.