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Acoustic Surveys

Recent Submissions

  • Atlantic Herring and Horse Mackerel in 6aS/7b; Industry Acoustic Survey Cruise Report

    O’Malley, M.; Clarke, M.; Smith, T.; Mullins, E. (Marine Institute, 2018)
    An acoustic survey of Atlantic herring Clupea harengus and horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus was conducted in ICES areas 6aS/7b in Nov 2017 using the pair trawl vessels MFV Eilean Croine S238 and MFV Sparkling Star D437. This survey is the second in a time series that is hoped will be developed into a long-term index of spawning/pre-spawning herring and horse mackerel in 6aS/7b, for use in stock assessments in the future. The survey design was based on the predicted distribution of herring and horse mackerel in this area during this time. In total 1,482nmi of cruise track was completed using 27 transects and related to a total area coverage of approximately 2,200 nmi². Parallel transect spacing was set at 7.5nmi for the wider area, and 3.5nmi for Donegal Bay. Coverage extended from inshore coastal areas to the 200 m contour in the west and north. A mini survey was carried out in Lough Swilly using a zig-zag design. A Simrad ES-38B (38 kHz) split-beam transducer mounted on a towed body was calibrated before the survey near Rathmullan Pier in Lough Swilly, Co. Donegal. Very strong herring marks (e.g. > 2nmi long, 200m wide and ~18m deep) were evident in Lough Swilly, an area where boats in the monitoring fishery were concentrating effort. There was also a series of strong herring marks in Bruckless Bay and Inver Bay in discreet areas. There were very few herring marks offshore. A total of four hauls were taken for biological analysis. Biological samples from the monitoring fishery were used to augment the samples from the survey. Samples were taken from boats fishing in Lough Swilly, Bruckless Bay and Inver Bay as close spatially and temporally as possible to the survey in these areas. Herring were dominated by 3-wr fish in all hauls. The 3-wr age class constituted 32% of the overall numbers. Horse mackerel were distributed throughout the survey area, but particularly throughout the area to the north and west of Tory Island. Horse mackerel length distribution was dominated by a mode at 24cm, with a smaller mode at 30cm. This corresponded to a dominance of 3-wr fish (~67%) in all of the samples. The total stock biomass (TSB) estimate of herring for the combined 6aS/7b area was 40,646 tonnes (Lough Swilly = 12,098 tonnes, Donegal Bay = 23,157 tonnes, and the remaining NW area = 5,391 tonnes). This is considered to be a minimum estimate of herring in the 6aS/7b survey area at the time of the survey. The TSB estimate of horse mackerel for the total surveyed area in 6aS/7b area was 68,079 tonnes, considered to be a minimum estimate of horse mackerel in the 6aS/7b survey area at the time of the survey. The CV estimates on biomass and abundance are high (~0.50 for herring and ~ 0.62 for horse mackerel) for the survey in 2017. For herring, this is mostly caused by the over-reliance on a few acoustic marks of herring in Lough Swilly and Bruckless/Inver Bays in particular. For horse mackerel, this is most likely caused by and over-reliance of two transects in particular. Horse mackerel are a widely distributed stock, therefore the stock was not contained by this survey.
  • Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 2017, 15-04 November 2017

    O'Donnell, C.; O'Malley, M.; Lynch, D.; Lyons, K.; Keogh, N.; O’Driscoll, D. (Marine Institute, 2017)
    In the southwest of Ireland and the Celtic Sea (ICES Divisions VIIaS, g & j), herring are an important commercial species to the pelagic and polyvalent fleet. For a period in the 1970s and1980s, larval surveys were conducted for herring in this area. However, since 1989, acoustic surveys have been carried out, and currently are the only tuning indices available for this stock. In the Celtic Sea and VIIj, herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989. Since 2004 the survey has been fixed in October and carried out onboard the RV Celtic Explorer. The geographical confines of the annual 21 day survey have been modified in recent years to include areas to the south of the main winter spawning grounds in an effort to identify the whereabouts of winter spawning fish before the annual inshore spawning migration. Spatial resolution of acoustic transects has been increased over the entire south coast survey area. The acoustic component of the survey has been further complemented since 2004 by detailed hydrographic, marine mammal and seabird surveys.
  • Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS) 06 June - 21 July, 2017

    O’Donnell, C.; O’Malley, M.; Mullins, E.; Lynch, D.; Keogh, N.; O’Sullivan, C. (Marine Institute, 2017)
    The WESPAS survey program is the consolidation of two existing survey programs carried out by FEAS. The Malin Shelf herring acoustic survey has been carried out annually since 2008 and reports on the annual abundance of summer feeding aggregations of herring to the west of Scotland and to the north and west of Ireland from 54°N to 58°30’N. The boarfish survey was carried out from 2011 using a chartered fishing vessel and reports on the abundance of spawning aggregations of boarfish from 47°N to 57°N. In 2016 both surveys were combined and carried out onboard the RV Celtic Explorer over a 42 day period providing synoptic coverage of shelf waters from 47°N northwards to 58°30’N.
  • Northwest Herring Acoustic Survey Report 24th June – 14th July, 2015

    Nolan, C.; Campbell, A.; O’Donnell, C.; Marrinan, M.; Parker, M. (Marine Institute, 2015)
    The northwest and west coast (ICES Divisions VIaS & VIIb, c) herring acoustic survey programme was first established in 1994. The summer 2015 survey represents the eight in the new time series (est. in 2008). The survey was coordinated through the ICES Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS). The Irish component was carried out to cover the statistical rectangles between 53°30’-58°30' N and 12°-5° W as laid out in the WGIPS report (ICES, 2014). For 2015 only Irish data on herring distribution, abundance and age have been used to provide a measure of the relative abundance of herring within the Malin shelf stock complex. Survey data on stock numbers at age are submitted to the ICES Herring Assessment Working Group (HAWG) and used in the annual stock assessment process. The northwest and west coast (ICES Divisions VIaS & VIIb) herring stock is composed of two spawning components, autumn and winter spawners. Spawning covers a large geographical area and extends over a 4-month period from late September through to late March (Molloy et al, 2000). Traditionally, fishing effort has been concentrated on spawning and pre-spawning aggregations. The autumn spawning component, which mostly occurs within VIIb and VIaS, feeds along the shelf break area to the west of the spawning grounds. The larger winter spawning component is found further north in VIa. In VIaS, summer distribution extends from close inshore to the shelf break. Components of the winter spawning fish are known to undertake northward feeding migration into VIaN before returning in the winter to spawn along the Irish coast.
  • Blue Whiting Acoustic Survey cruise report, March 19- April 11, 2017

    O'Donnell, C.; Johnston, G.; Mullins, E.; Keogh, N.; O'Callaghan, S. (Marine Institute, 2017)
    Acoustic surveys on blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) spawning aggregations in the north east Atlantic have been carried out by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) Norway since the early 1970s. The 2017 survey was part of an international collaborative survey using the vessels RV Celtic Explorer (Ireland), RV Tridens (Netherlands), FV Kings Bay (Norway) and the RV Magnus Heinason (Faroes). The total combined area coverage extended from the Faroe Islands in the north (62° N) to south of Ireland (51° N), with east -west extension from 1°-17° W. International survey participants meet shortly after the survey to present data and produce a combined relative abundance stock estimate and report. The combined survey report is presented annually at the WGIPS meeting held in January. The information presented here relates specifically to the Irish survey.
  • International Blue Whiting Spawning Stock Survey (IBWSS) Spring 2017

    Marine Institute; Wageningen Marine Research; Institute of Marine Research; PINRO; Faroe Marine Research Institute; Marine Scotland Marine Laboratory; Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut; Danish Institute for Fisheries Research; BirdWatch Ireland; Irish Whale and Dolphin Group; UCC; Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys; Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (Marine Institute, 2017)
    Coordination of the survey was initiated in the meeting of the Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) and continued by correspondence until the start of the survey. During the survey effort was refined and adjusted by the coordinator based on real time observations. The survey design applied followed methods described in ICES Survey design Manual (2015) and allowed for a flexible transect design and comprehensive coverage of the spawning aggregations. Overall weather conditions were mixed with periods of poor and good weather. All vessels, with the exception of Kings Bay experienced some downtime due to conditions with the Faroes experiencing the most prolonged period of bad weather at the end of the survey period. The entire survey was undertaken within 20 days and below the 21 day target threshold. The bulk of the survey was temporally consistent with the exception of one transect in the southern Rockall Trough.
  • Atlantic Herring in 6aS/7b, c Industry Acoustic Survey Cruise Report, 28 November – 07 December, 2016

    O'Malley, M.; Clarke, M.; O'Donnell, C.; Murphy, I. (Marine Institute, 2017)
    The individual stock assessments for Atlantic herring Clupea harengus in 6aN and 6aS/7b, c have been combined into one assessment encompassing both stocks following a benchmark in 2015 (ICES 2015a). ICES still considers that two separate stocks exist. The main reason for the merging has been that the catches of mixed aggregations in the commercial fishery and in the summer acoustic survey could not be separated into the different stock components for the purposes of stock assessment. The consequence of this has been a zero TAC for herring in these areas for 2016 and 2017. In its autumn 2015 plenary report, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF PLEN 15-03, 2015), noted that from a stock assessment perspective, it would be beneficial to allow small catches in both management areas in the form of a monitoring TAC, to maintain an uninterrupted time series of fishery-dependent catch data from both stocks. On the request of industry, part of the monitoring TAC was set aside in 2016 to conduct acoustic/trawl surveys in both 6aN and 6aS/7b, c. An industry/science collaboration survey was conducted on pre-spawning aggregations of 6aS/7, c herring during late November/early December in 2016. Herring were found in very dense aggregations in a few specific locations (Lough Swilly and Donegal Bay), but schools were smaller and in low numbers throughout much of the survey area offshore. This behaviour was evident in the monitoring fishery also during the time of the survey. The dense shoals were in shallow inshore areas, and in some cases very large (> 1nmi long). Three acoustic validation hauls were also carried out, only one containing herring. Fishing could not take place in shallow areas with the survey vessel. Samples from the monitoring fishery were used to augment samples from the survey and work up an estimate of abundance and biomass of herring. The survey estimated a minimum of 35,475 tonnes herring in the survey area. The hyper-aggregating behaviour and relatively low numbers of herring schools during the survey led to a high CV (~0.37) on the estimates of abundance and biomass. The vast majority of herring were mature, assumed to be of 6aS/7b, c origin due to their proximity geographically to the spawning beds and temporally to spawning time for this mainly winter spawning stock. Small horse mackerel (~20 - 24cm) were found throughout the area to the north and west of Tory Island in many large schools on the bottom
  • Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 2016, 07-27 October 2016

    O'Donnell, C.; Sullivan, M.; Lyons, K.; Keogh, N.; Quinn, M. (Marine Institute, 2016)
    In the southwest of Ireland and the Celtic Sea (ICES Divisions VIIaS, g & j), herring are an important commercial species to the pelagic and polyvalent fleet. For a period in the 1970s and1980s, larval surveys were conducted for herring in this area. However, since 1989, acoustic surveys have been carried out, and currently are the only tuning indices available for this stock. In the Celtic Sea and VIIj, herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989. Since 2004 the survey has been fixed in October and carried out onboard the RV Celtic Explorer. The geographical confines of the annual 21 day survey have been modified in recent years to include areas to the south of the main winter spawning grounds in an effort to identify the whereabouts of winter spawning fish before the annual inshore spawning migration. Spatial resolution of acoustic transects has been increased over the entire south coast survey area. The acoustic component of the survey has been further complemented since 2004 by detailed hydrographic, marine mammal and seabird surveys.
  • Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS) 16 June - 30 July, 2016

    O'Donnell, C.; Nolan, C.; Johnson, G.; O'Malley, M.; Mullins, E.; Keogh, N.; O'Callaghan, S.; Keogh, H.; Grassie, A.; Nicholas, S. (Marine Instiute, 2016)
    The WESPAS survey program is the consolidation of two existing survey programs carried out by FEAS. The Main Shelf herring acoustic survey has been carried out annually since 2008 and reports on the annual abundance of summer feeding aggregations of herring to the west of Scotland and north of Ireland from 54N to 59N. The boarfish survey has been carried out since 2011using a chartered fishing vessel and reports on the abundance of spawning aggregations of boarfish 47N to 57N. In 2016 both surveys were combined and carried out onboard the RV Celtic Explorer over a 42 day period providing synoptic coverage of shelf waters from 59N southwards to 47N.
  • International Blue Whiting Spawning Stock Survey (IBWSS) Spring 2016

    Marine Institute; Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies; PINRO; Faroe Marine Research Institute; Marine Scotland Marine Laboratory; Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut; Danish Institute for Fisheries Research; Birdwatch Ireland; Galway/Mayo Institute of technology (Marine Institute, 2016)
    Coordination of the survey was initiated in the meeting of the Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) and continued by correspondence until the start of the survey. During the survey, updates on vessel positions and trawl activities were collated by the survey coordinator and distributed to the participants twice daily. The survey design used and described in ICES (2015) allowed for a flexible setup of transects and good coverage of the spawning aggregations. Overall weather conditions were good during the survey with a total of 3 days weather down time recorded. Transects undertaken by all vessels were consistent in spatial coverage and timing, delivering full coverage of the respective distribution areas within 23 days.
  • Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 2015, 02-22 October 2015

    O’Donnell, C.; Lynch, D.; Lyons, K.; Keogh, N.; O’Donovan, M. (Marine Institute, 2015)
    In the southwest of Ireland and the Celtic Sea (ICES Divisions VIIaS, g & j),herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989. In the Celtic Sea and VIIj, herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989, and this survey is the 21st in the overall acoustic series or the tenth in the modified time series conducted exclusively in October. The geographical confines of the annual 21 day survey have been modified in recent years to include areas to the south of the main winter spawning grounds in an effort to identify the whereabouts of winter spawning fish before the annual inshore spawning migration. Spatial resolution of acoustic transects has been increased over the entire south coast survey area. The acoustic component of the survey has been further complemented since 2004 by detailed hydrographic, marine mammal and seabird surveys.
  • Boarfish Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 10 July – 31 July, 2015

    O'Donnell, C.; Nolan, C. (Marine Institute, 2015)
    From the early 1970s the abundance of boarfish (Capros aper) was seen to increase exponentially and distribution spread increasingly northwards along the western seaboard and Bay of Biscay (Blanchard and Vandermeirsch, 2005).This survey represents the fifth dedicated research survey for boarfish in the time series. The commercial fishing vessel MFV Felucca was employed for the survey and the vessels hull mounted transducer was calibrated for scientific output. Data from this survey will be presented to the ICES assessment Working Group for Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) meeting in August 2015 and as part of the ICES Planning Group meeting for International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) meeting in January 2016 (WGIPS).
  • Blue Whiting Acoustic Survey Cruise Report, March 22 - April 01, 2015

    O'Donnell, C.; Nolan, C.; Johnston, G.; Keogh, N.; van der Knaap, I.; Borawska, A.; O’Donovan, M. (Marine Institute, 2015)
    Acoustic surveys on blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) spawning aggregations in the north east Atlantic have been carried out by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) Norway since the early 1970s. The 2015 survey was part of an international collaborative survey using the vessels RV Celtic Explorer (Ireland), FV Fridtjof Nansen (Russia), RV Tridens (Netherlands) and the RV Magnus Heinason (Faroes). The total combined area coverage extended from the Faroe Islands in the north (62° N) to south of Ireland (51° N), with east -west extension from 4°-18° W. International survey participants meet shortly after the survey to present data and produce a combined relative abundance stock estimate and report. The combined survey report is presented annually at the WGIPS meeting held in January. The information presented here relates specifically to the Irish survey component.
  • International Blue Whiting Spawning Stock Survey (IBWSS) Spring 2015

    Marine Institute; Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies; Institute of Marine Research; PINRO; Faroe Marine Research Institute; Marine Scotland Marine Laboratory; Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut; Danish Institute for Fisheries Research; Birdwatch Ireland; Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (Marine Institute, 2015)
    Coordination of the survey was initiated in the meeting of the Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) and continued by correspondence until the start of the survey. During the survey, updates on vessel positions and trawl activities were collated by the survey coordinator and distributed to the participants twice daily. The survey design used and described in ICES (2014) allowed for a flexible setup of transects and good coverage of the spawning aggregations. Considering weather conditions were by no means optimal during the survey period, good quality coverage of the stock was achieved. Transects of all vessels were consistent in spatial coverage and timing, delivering full coverage of the respective distribution areas within 14 days.
  • Northwest Herring Acoustic Survey Report 22nd June – 12th July, 2014

    Nolan, Cormac; O'Donnell, Ciaran; Campbell, Andrew; Sullivan, Mairead; Mullins, Eugene (Marine Institute, 2014)
    The northwest and west coast (ICES Divisions VIaS & VIIb, c) herring acoustic survey programme was first established in 1994.The summer 2014 survey represents the seventh in the new time series (est. in 2008). The survey was coordinated through the ICES Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS). The Irish component was carried out to cover the statistical rectangles between 53°30’-58°30' N and 12°-5° W as laid out in the WGIPS report (ICES, 2014). Combined survey data on herring distribution, abundance and age are used to provide a measure of the relative abundance of herring within the Malin shelf stock complex. Survey data on stock numbers at age are submitted to the ICES Herring Assessment Working Group (HAWG) and used in the annual stock assessment process.The northwest and west coast (ICES Divisions VIaS & VIIb) herring stock is composed of two spawning components, autumn and winter spawners. Spawning covers a large geographical area and extends over a 4-month period from late September through to late March (Molloy et al, 2000). Traditionally, fishing effort has been concentrated on spawning and pre-spawning aggregations. The autumn spawning component, which mostly occurs within VIIb and VIaS, feeds along the shelf break area to the west of the spawning grounds. The larger winter spawning component is found further north in VIa. In VIaS, summer distribution extends from close inshore to the shelf break. Components of the winter spawning fish are known to undertake northward feeding migration into VIaN before returning in the winter to spawn along the Irish coast.
  • Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 2014, 06-26 October 2014.

    Nolan, Cormac; O'Donnell, Ciaran; Lynch, Deirdre; Lyons, Kieran; Keogh, Niall; McAvoy, Stephen; Cronin, Ciaran; Hunt, William (Marine Institute, 2014)
    In the southwest of Ireland and the Celtic Sea (ICES Divisions VIIaS, g & j),herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989. This survey was undertaken in early October. The geographical confines of the annual 21 day survey program have been modified in recent years to include areas to the south of the main winter spawning grounds in an effort to identify the whereabouts of winter spawning fish before the annual inshore spawning migration. Spatial resolution of acoustic transects has been increased over the entire south coast survey area. The acoustic component of the survey has been further complimented since 2004 by detailed hydrographic and marine mammal and seabird surveys.
  • Boarfish Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 10 July – 31 July, 2014

    O'Donnell, Ciaran; Nolan, Cormac (Marine Institute, 2014)
    From the early 1970s the abundance of boarfish (Capros aper) was seen to increase exponentially and distribution spread increasingly northwards along the western seaboard and Bay of Biscay (Blanchard and Vandermeirsch, 2005). This survey represents the fourth dedicated research survey for boarfish in the time series. The commercial fishing vessel MFV Felucca was used for the third time and was equipped with a calibrated scientific echosounder (Simrad EK 60) and transducer within a towed body. Data from this survey will be presented to the ICES assessment Working Group for Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) meeting in August 2014 and as part of the ICES Planning Group meeting for International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) meeting in January 2015 (WGIPS).
  • International Blue Whiting Spawning Stock Survey (IBWSS) Spring 2014

    Marine Institute; Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies; Institute of Marine Research; PINRO; Faroe Marine Research Institute; Marine Scotland Marine Laboratory; Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut; Danish Institute for Fisheries Research; Birdwatch Ireland; Irish Parks and Wildlife Service (Marine Institute, 2014)
    Coordination of the survey was initiated in the meeting of the Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) and continued by correspondence until the start of the survey. During the survey, updates on vessel positions and trawl activities were collated by the survey coordinator and distributed to the participants twice daily. The survey design used and described in ICES (2014) allowed for a flexible setup of transects and good coverage of the spawning aggregations. Due to acceptable - good weather conditions throughout the survey period, the survey resulted in a high quality coverage of the stock. Transects of all vessels were consistent in spatial coverage and timing, delivering full coverage of the respective distribution areas within 14 days.
  • Blue Whiting Acoustic Survey Cruise Report, March 22 - April 11, 2014

    O'Donnell, Ciaran; Mullins, Eugene; Johnston, Graham; Keogh, Niall; Oudejans, Machiel (Marine Institute, 2014)
    Acoustic surveys on blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) spawning aggregations in the north east Atlantic have been carried out by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) Norway since the early 1970s. The 2014 survey was part of an international collaborative survey using the vessels RV Celtic Explorer (Ireland), RV Fridtjof Nansen (Russia), RV Tridens (Netherlands) and the RV Magnus Heinason (Faroes). The total combined area coverage extended from the Faroe Islands in the north (62° N) to south of Ireland (52° N), with east -west extension from 4°-19° W. International survey participants meet shortly after the survey to present data and produce a combined relative abundance stock estimate and report.The combined survey report is presented annually at the WGIPS meeting held in January. The information presented here relates specifically to the Irish survey.
  • Fish species recorded during deepwater trawl surveys on the continental shelf and the Porcupine Bank, 2006-2008

    Johnston, G.; O'Hea, B.; Dransfeld, L. (Marine Institute, 2012)
    The Marine Institute and the National University of Ireland, Galway conducted a deepwater survey each September from 2006-2008 from the RV Celtic Explorer using BT184 deepwater nets with type-D ground gear (ICES 2006). Fish, benthic and hydrographic data were collected. Two-hour fishing trawls (time on bottom) took place in three locations on the continental slope to the north and west of Ireland, and on the Porcupine Bank. The survey objectives were to collect biological data on the main deepwater fish species and invertebrates. In total 166 taxa were recorded over the three years, with a maximum of 129 in 2008.

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