Building on Fisheries Acoustics for Marine Ecosystem Surveys

Zwolinski, J.; Demer, D.; Cutter, G.; Stierhoff, K.; Macewicz, B.

Oceanography 27(4): 68-79


ISSN/ISBN: 1042-8275
DOI: 10.5670/oceanog.2014.87
Accession: 068510289

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries Service endeavors to manage fish stocks with an ecosystem perspective. This objective requires an understanding of the effects of the environment and fishing on all major ecosystem components. For example, in large upwelling systems like the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), natural cycles in the oceanographic and atmospheric conditions appear to drive large fluctuations in the distributions and relative abundances of coastal pelagic fish species (CPS), for example, sardine, anchovy, mackerels, and herring. These changes may be accelerated or delayed by changes in mortality due to fishing or predation of larger fish, marine mammals, and seabirds. We suggest that the data necessary to manage Cps with an ecosystem perspective may be obtained from frequent surveys of multiple Cps and their biotic and abiotic environment. We show that this is practical with surveys based on a combination of acoustic and trawl sampling coupled with complementary measures from numerous other sensors. Such acoustic-trawl-method (ATM) surveys of the Cce were conducted during the spring and summer of 2012 and 2013. We present the results of these surveys, including the seasonal distributions and abundances of multiples of the most ecological and economically important CPS. These data hint at the ultimate potential of periodic surveys using Atm sampling augmented with physical oceanographic, zooplankton, ichthyoplankton, fish, seabird, and mammal investigations to characterize the ecosystems.