Location: Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
Collaborators: Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, FarSounder Inc., and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service
Goal: Develop a methodology using hydroacoustic sonar products aimed specifically at estimating pelagic fish biomass and identifying species.
Significance: The results 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 fisheries sampling products.
Background: 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 (Brevoortia tyrannus) and herring (Clupea harengus) are commercially important pelagic fisheries that support large industries, 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 and reduce bycatch of threatened species such as blueback river herring (Alosa aestivalis). Furthermore, such technologies would be useful for the science and fishing industry to save time and money.
Funding: Rhode Island Research Alliance (STAC)