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Acoustic backscatter - a sound predictor of fish and shellfish habitat?

Surficial sediments affect the distribution and abundance of groundfish in the eastern Bering Sea (EBS) (Smith & McConnaughey 1999, McConnaughey & Smith 2000). As such, data on surficial sediment properties may be useful for predicting groundfish distributions and for defining their habitats requirements

Traditional sampling with grabs and cores to obtain sediment data is impractical over large areas. In contrast, acoustic tools such as sonar systems are suitable for broad-scale surveying of sediment properties. However, it is unknown whether acoustic data represent the sediment properties that are important to groundfish.

To answer this question, we have conducted several pilot studies to determine whether processed sonar data can be used to explain the distribution and abundance of groundfish. Research indicates that acoustic data are useful for this purpose. Additional work is underway to develop operational guidelines for broad-scale acoustic mapping.

 

Pilot Studies

  • Sidescan Sonar Bristol Bay Reconnaissance Mapping
  • Vertical-Beam Echosounder Eastern Bering Sea Hydroacoustic Survey
  • FISHPAC A Multi-disciplinary Habitat and Hydroacoustic Research Project
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