Identifying biological hotspots from fishery acoustic surveys in untrawlable coral and rocky reef coastal ecosystems to guide ecosystem management and ocean planning.

Chris Taylor, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Event Location: 
Event Date: 
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 2:00pm
Event Type: 
SCMSS Seminar Series


Reef fish distributions are patchy over time and space, intimately linked to biological interactions and geomorphology of the seascape. Identifying biological hotspots in these ecosystems is a top priority for coastal fisheries managers. Visual and optical methods provide the highest level of detail on benthic habitats and the fish communities, but are limited by many factors including inefficiencies in covering large areas at fine spatial resolution. Fishery and multibeam sonars are used to rapidly surveys large areas, providing multiple layers of inference on the seafloor types and distribution of fish biomass in the watercolumn. This presentation will be in three parts.  First, I will describe predictive modeling that we use to map hotpots of fish biomass in coral reef ecosystems.  Maps of acoustically derived fish density show distribution patterns relative to management zones and have been used to infer potential boundary effects in existing marine protected areas.  Second, I will discuss recent efforts to enhance the utility of “watercolumn” data from multibeam sonars integrated with fishery echosounders.  The integrated systems significantly enhance our interpretation of large fish schools in coastal seafloor habitats.  And finally, I will introduce outcomes of a biogeographic assessment of a wind energy area off North Carolina to aide in minimizing the impacts to rocky reefs and fish communities in the SE US continental shelf. Integrated acoustic and diver surveys are filling gaps in living marine resource assessments in reef systems and enhancing data support tools used by managers in ecosystem management and marine spatial planning.