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Journal Articles Fish and Fisheries Year : 2006

Omnidirectional multibeam sonar monitoring: applications in fisheries science


Data exploitation, acquired by medium-frequency omnidirectional multibeam sonar, enables original studies in fisheries research but is seldom used despite the fact that such equipment is found on most fishing vessels and a number of research vessels. This is the only system for real-time monitoring of fish schools within a horizontal omnidirectional plane about a vessel or a buoy. Between 1996 and 2001, we used two standard omnidirectional sonars and developed new methodologies for exploiting their specific acoustic data according to two main sampling schemes: 'prospecting', including fishing and searching operations, and 'drifting', as with an instrumental buoy system or aboard a stationary vessel. We present a complete method for continuous data acquisition from aboard a research vessel or commercial boat, with automated data extraction by picture analysis and a data processing method. Two cases of data analysis are considered: the first on a school-by-school basis, the 'single school' mode; the second taking into account all fish schools detected within the sonar sampling volume, the 'cluster' mode. Elementary sonar information is divided into five categories that comprise 24 survey and sonar parameters and 55 school, cluster and fisher behaviour descriptors. We review the applications of these categories and discuss perspectives for their use in fisheries science. If the sonar system enables the evaluation of the effects of vessel avoidance on fish school biomass assessment, no accurate abundance estimate can be provided by a simple sonar echo-integration process. Omnidirectional sonar data can be used to analyse collectively the fish schools' swimming speed, kinematics in terms of diffusion and migration, aggregative dynamics as school splitting and merging indexes, spatial characteristics of clusters such as school density, 2D structure and fisher behaviour. The prospect of integrating such data into a fish school database, including multifrequency echo-sounder and lateral multibeam (3D) sonar data combined with a species recognition method, will enable a complete view of fish school behaviour and consequently the adoption of accurate fisheries management methods.

Dates and versions

hal-00668009 , version 1 (08-02-2012)



Patrice Brehmer, Thierry Lafont, Stratis Georgakarakos, Erwan Josse, François Gerlotto, et al.. Omnidirectional multibeam sonar monitoring: applications in fisheries science. Fish and Fisheries, 2006, 7 (3), pp.165-179. ⟨10.1111/j.1467-2979.2006.00218.x⟩. ⟨hal-00668009⟩
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