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- Development of New Methods for Quantifying Fish Density Using Underwater Stereo-video Tools
- The use of video camera systems in ecological studies of fish continues to gain traction as a viable, non-extractive method of measuring fish lengths and estimating fish abundance. We developed and implemented a rotating stereo-video camera tool that covers a full 360 degrees of sampling, which maximizes sampling effort compared to stationary camera tools. A variety of studies have detailed the ability of static, stereo-camera systems to obtain highly accurate and precise measurements of fish; the focus here was on the development of methodological approaches to quantify fish density using rotating camera systems. The first approach was to develop a modification of the metric MaxN, which typically is a conservative count of the minimum number of fish observed on a given camera survey. We redefine MaxN to be the maximum number of fish observed in any given rotation of the camera system. When precautions are taken to avoid double counting, this method for MaxN may more accurately reflect true abundance than that obtained from a fixed camera. Secondly, because stereo-video allows fish to be mapped in three-dimensional space, precise estimates of the distance-from-camera can be obtained for each fish. By using the 95% percentile of the observed distance from camera to establish species-specific areas surveyed, we account for differences in detectability among species while avoiding diluting density estimates by using the maximum distance a species was observed. Accounting for this range of detectability is critical to accurately estimate fish abundances. This methodology will facilitate the integration of rotating stereo-video tools in both applied science and management contexts.
- Denney, Fields, Gleason, Starr
- Targeting Abundant Fish Stocks while Avoiding Overfished Species: Video and Fishing Surveys to Inform Management after Long-Term Fishery Closures
- Historically, it has been difficult to balance conservation goals and yield objectives when managing multispecies fisheries that include stocks with various vulnerabilities to fishing. As managers try to maximize yield in mixed-stock fisheries, exploitation rates can lead to less productive stocks becoming overfished. In the late 1990s, population declines of several U.S. West Coast groundfish species caused the U.S. Pacific Fishery Management Council to create coast-wide fishery closures, known as Rockfish Conservation Areas, to rebuild overfished species. The fishery closures and other management measures successfully reduced fishing mortality of these species, but constrained fishing opportunities on abundant stocks. Restrictive regulations also caused the unintended consequence of reducing fishery-dependent data available to assess population status of fished species. As stocks rebuild, managers are faced with the challenge of increasing fishing opportunities while minimizing fishing mortality on rebuilding species. We designed a camera system to evaluate fishes in coastal habitats and used experimental gear and fishing techniques paired with video surveys to determine if abundant species could be caught in rocky habitats with minimal catches of co-occurring rebuilding species. We fished a total of 58 days and completed 741 sets with vertical hook-and-line fishing gear. We also conducted 299 video surveys in the same locations where fishing occurred. Comparison of fishing and stereo-video surveys indicated that fishermen could fish with modified hook-and-line gear to catch abundant species while limiting bycatch of rebuilding species. As populations of overfished species continue to recover along the U.S. West Coast, it is important to improve data collection, and video and fishing surveys may be key to assessing species that occur in rocky habitats.
- Starr, Gleason, Marks, Kline, Rienecke, Denney, Tagini, Field