Symposium Summary: Gaining Better Understanding of Resources and Resource Users through the Application of Emerging Technologies

Symposium Summary

The Fisheries Information and Technology Section and Socioeconomics Section co-hosted a symposium this year to highlight the use of new and innovative technologies in the study of fisheries resources and resource users.  There was an excellent session that covered a range of topics from recreational and commercial data collection to the study of resource users through social media data.

Recent technological advancements have brought forth new tools and applications for use in science, social science and human dimensions. Some of these emerging technologies are being utilized by fisheries scientists to better understand the resource and resource users. Smartphones, digital tablets, digital pens, trail cameras, and other technologies are being utilized to increase efficiency, effectiveness and accuracy in data collection. Angler survey methods are evolving to better exploit new hardware and software applications. Data mining software has enabled agencies to gain better understanding of licensed anglers and utilize such information to increase angling participation and revenue. From marine to freshwater and recreational to commercial, emerging technologies are improving and expanding the types, quality, amount and speed of social science and fisheries data collection.



Individual Abstracts

Integrating SAS and ESRI for Customer Relationship Management

John Taylor , Inland Fisheries Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Austin, TX

Funding for resource management and conservation efforts by natural resource agencies, such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), comes from revenue generated by customer interactions (fishing and hunting licenses, boat registrations, park visitation fees, magazine subscriptions, etc.). TPWD has developed a Business Intelligence system, the License Utilization and Revenue Enhancement System (LURES), which consolidates the agency’s licensing point-of-sale system and other revenue-related databases to support enhanced understanding of customer interactions with the agency, in an attempt to improve customer service and retention as well as the agency’s finances. This comprehensive analytics system integrates SAS software linking each customer’s purchasing patterns across agency databases with ESRI software to provide geospatial visualization and analyses of customer demographic profiles to identify the most-effective marketing strategies to reach individual customers, as well as neighborhoods with demographic groups targeted for new-customer recruitment efforts. This presentation will highlight the mechanics behind our SAS and ESRI integrated Business Intelligence System, as well as demonstrate the range of analytical capabilities it enables.

Presentation Link


Use of a Digital Trail Camera to Monitor Angler Participation Trends in a Small Urban Impoundment

Marcos J. De Jesus , Inland Fisheries, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, San Marcos, TX

J. Warren Schlechte , Inland Fisheries, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Mountain Home, TX

We used a fixed-mounted digital camera to estimate angler participation at a small impoundment near Austin, Texas as part of a marketing evaluation for an urban fishing program.  The camera took a photograph of most of the shoreline every 15 minutes for one year.  We used on-site angler counts to ground-truth angler estimates and verify angler-type (i.e., youth:adult) identification.  A regression model of expected counts based on the camera and observed counts based on the ground-truthing had an r-square of 0.84.  Most anglers were adults; the highest youth to adult ratio (3.7:1) occurred on weekend afternoons.  Interestingly, most angling effort occurred on weekdays and was between 10am – 5pm.  We documented higher participation of youth during school holidays, in contrast to school days. December had the highest participation and August the lowest; however, no differences in participation were found between seasonal stockings of different species.  We compared the cost and effectiveness of this technique against traditional roving creels.  Digital trail cameras can be a valuable, cost-effective tool for managers looking to monitor angler participation trends or simply gather effort estimates in small impoundments, where traditional creel surveys would not capture these type of data efficiently.

Presentation Link


Keeping Pace: New Technologies for Estimating the Cost of Locomotion of Free-Ranging Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)

Bryan Cage , Biology, University of Mississippi, University, MS

Advances in electronics are providing us with new and innovative techniques to monitor fish movements. However, such technologies are often too expensive and unaffordable to graduate student research. Fortunately, the advent of open-source microprocessors are providing a cost-effective means to not only target movements, but more importantly, to focus on locomotion and energy expenditure.

This research introduces a new device to study free-ranging paddlefish, providing an estimate of their swimming speed, behavior, and metabolic performance. It is an inexpensive alternative for graduate students to acquire ground-breaking data on a limited budget. The device can be assembled for less than $150 USD, and is supported by community forums and insightful tutorials. The device uses BlueTooth® technologies to connect with laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Students and professionals will garner an introductory level of understanding of these technologies; thereby, finding the means to adapt these tools to their own research interests and experiments. The fundamental application of these tools will expedite the learning and understanding of the fish we study. As a community of researchers with a fisheries focus, these technologies can be a viable and growing foundation to the work of others and to the scientific community as a whole.

Presentation Link


Challenges of Animal Activity and Behavior Recognition Using Tri-Axial Accelerometers

F. Broell, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

A. Bezanson, School of Biomedical Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

C.T. Taggart, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

Micro-accelerometer tags are a novel technology used to remotely monitor (aquatic) animals in the wild providing quantitative information on behaviour and locomotion, especially on an individual animal basis. One of the challenges with this technology is the development of automated methods that relate the accelerometer signal pattern to a range of activities, behaviours, energy expenditure, and environmental parameters (temperature, depth, light, etc.). We designed and developed a novel high-frequency (up to 550 Hz) micro-accelerometer tag to demonstrate how simple analytical techniques can be used to extract information on behavior (e.g. feeding) and activity (swimming, migrating) in the time and frequency domain (spectral analysis, filtering, etc.) in fish. Using a model species (M. polyacanthocephalus) we demonstrate that to measure behaviour occurring over short time scales (e.g. feeding, escape response) high (>50Hz) sampling frequency is necessary. We also demonstrate that accelerometer tags can be used to measure (tagging-induced) stress response in Atlantic Cod (G. morhua). Atlantic Cod display aberrant swimming behaviour associated with attempts to reduce tag load. We summarize the analytical techniques used to extract these movements from the acceleration record. Finally, we demonstrate that the frequency and duration of this behaviour is significantly affected by tag size.

Presentation Link


Evaluating Rapid and Accountable Commercial Harvest Reporting in the Maryland Blue Crab Fishery

H. Ward Slacum Jr. , Oyster Recovery Partnership, Annapolis, MD

Brenda Davis , Fisheries Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD

Steve Early , Fisheries Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis

Bryan Stevenson , Electric Edge Systems Group Inc., Victoria, BC, Canada

Kate Culzoni , Council Fire, Annapolis, MD

Jodi Dew-Baxter , Coastal Monitoring and Assessment Program, Versar, Inc., Columbia, MD

Ryan Corbin , Coastal Monitoring and Assessment Program, Versar, Inc., Columbia, MD

Cellular service coverage has become so reliable that the prevalence of mobile technology in fisheries is providing resource agencies and industry an opportunity to improve management and business decisions through access to electronic harvest reporting and management systems.  In 2012, Maryland blue crab managers, fishing industry representatives and other stakeholders implemented a pilot project to evaluate if daily reporting using an electronic reporting system could improve the quality of harvest information reported by the blue crab fishery.  An existing reporting system (FACTS™) was modified to accept reported harvest and the usability of the system was evaluated by crabbers from every sector of the fishery during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  Crabbers were initially trained to use the reporting system and most took less than 3 trips to become proficient with reporting.  A portion of all 5581 crabbing trips were randomly monitored at the dockside to verify harvest and determine reporting accuracy.  Data entry errors and forgetfulness accounted for most of the reporting discrepancies.  The occurrence of some discrepancies was minimized by assigning additional data validation rules and automated text message reminders.  Overall, managers and industry participants reported increased reporting efficiency and data quality using mobile technology and the FACTS™ system.

Presentation Link


SAFIS Anywhere: Development of a Hand-Held Application for Fisheries Trip Reporting

Julie M. Defilippi , Senior Data Coordinator, Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program, Arlington, VA

The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) is a cooperative state-federal program. The Standard Atlantic Fisheries Information System (SAFIS) has become a critical component of fisheries data reporting. Expanding the SAFIS reporting options will help improve acceptance and reduce resistance amongst those required to report. ACCSP hired a contractor in June 2013 to develop hand-held software designed to transmit data in accordance with the existing API that is in compliance with the ACCSP Trip Reporting Standard. RI Department of Fish and Wildlife and RI Party Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) worked in concert to recruit 10 RIPCBA captains for test pilot. Pilot data was validated against traditional trip reports and port samples. A feedback mechanism built in to the application and exit interviews provided end-user input. The basic hand-held software application will be available to any interested Program Partner at no cost. Interested vendors will be provided with source code to use in creating add-ons that could be made available for purchase. Capturing data in near real time during a fishing trip has the potential to increase data accuracy and precision and allow collection of data not obtained via traditional reporting methodology, such as vessel position and speed.

For more information on SAFIS eTRIPS Mobile, please contact ACCSP at or call 703.8420.780.

Presentation Link


IGFA Catchlog; Improving Fisheries Data Exchange through Innovative Smartphone and Web Applications

Leah Baumwell , Conservation, International Game Fish Association, Dania Beach, FL

Andrew Loftus , Loftus Consulting, Annapolis, MD

Jason Schratwieser , International Game Fish Association, Dania Beach, FL

Obtaining quality estimates of marine recreational catch is difficult. In-person angler intercepts and telephone interviews, while providing core data, have proven problematic for obtaining all data required for intensive fisheries management. The IGFA CatchLog was designed with a focus on fisheries management applications and provides the ability to supplement existing data collection efforts through a structured approach. The IGFA CatchLog combines a mobile application, website, and survey system to collect angler data for scientific and management purposes while also providing anglers with useful tools for improving their fishing experiences. Additionally, a Visual Identification system, integrated in the application, helps anglers identify catches by matching iPhone photographs to known images, processed through real-time algorithms. Initial trials in the marine waters of Florida’s Everglades National Park have demonstrated that the IGFA CatchLog can be useful for collecting accurate fisheries catch data in a manner that also promotes angler use. The system was intentionally designed to allow expansion to other geographic areas and fisheries management applications. The ultimate goal of the IGFA CatchLog is to provide a system that is widely used, accurate, and trusted by managers and scientists to supplement current data collection efforts and foster sustainable management.

Presentation Link


Angler Preference and Movement? There’s an App for That!

Jason Papenfuss , Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

David C. Fulton , Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; University of Minnesota, St. Paul,, MN

Nicholas Phelps , Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Paul Venturelli , Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN

The number of smartphone mobile applications (apps) has exploded in tandem with the number of smartphone users over the past decade as developers have taken advantage of the compact but powerful computing platforms offered by these devices. In addition to their mobile computing capabilities, smartphones also regularly contain other measurement systems including GPS, accelerometers, and high resolution cameras and video. We hypothesize that the use of smartphone apps in the fisheries discipline is lagging and has widespread potential applications with high impact value. In support of this, we analyzed a database from a fishing related app deployed in Alberta to demonstrate how user generated information can be analyzed to resolve patterns in lake popularity and connectivity. In our paper we give special attention to how these patterns can inform the management of aquatic invasive species and fish diseases.

Presentation Link


Using Social Media for Ecosystem Observations: Practical Approaches, Analyses and How-to Tips for Scientists and Resource Managers

Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey , Public Policy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Mary Fuka , EnPhysica, LLC, Boulder, CO

Daniel Fuka , Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

M. Todd Walter , Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Zachary Easton , Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Science communication has changed dramatically in recent years as new communication tools have proliferated in this age of electronic connectivity. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the value social media provides, both for communicating science and from mining useful observations of the natural world (e.g., crowd-sourcing, citizen science). One of the most widely used new communication tools is Twitter, a microblogging site that enables users to read and send ≤140 character text-based messages called tweets. With nearly 60 million daily tweets and 2.1 billion Twitter search engine queries per day, how can scientists sort through the ‘firehose’ and find useful information? Using aquatic and terrestrial examples we present information on how data from Twitter can 1) supplement existing databases, 2) identify outlier phenomena, 3) guide additional crowd-sourced studies and data collection efforts, 4) recruit citizen scientists, 5) help gauge sentiment about the observations and 6) inform ecosystems policy-making and education. Additionally, we provide information on potential uses and analyses, how-to tips and lessons learned on gleaning useful information from social media, digesting it in a meaningful way and applying it to solving various system-wide problems.

Presentation Link


Specialized Tools for Biological Assessment Using Split Beam Hydroacoustics

Eric Munday , BioSonics, Inc., Seatte, WA

Tim Acker , BioSonics, Inc., Seattle, WA

James Dawson , BioSonics, Inc, Seattle, WA

Hydroacoustics for the assessment of fisheries resources is well established and split beam echosounders are the standard instrument of scientific fisheries acoustics, a technique that utilizing the physics of sound traveling through water to quantify the distribution of biota in the water column. By sending a piulse of sound through the water column and recording the time of travel and the strength of the reflected signal, it is possible to determine the size and location of fish and estimate biomass from the acoustic backscatter.  The science of fisheries acoustics and its applicability to resource management have evolved over the past several decades. Logistical challenges and economic factors continue to drive innovation in the field of hydroacoustics including the integration of split beam echosounders with other systems including UUVs, imaging sensors, and seafloor observatory platforms.  This document provides a description of three recent inventions that facilitate the use of split beam echosounders in non-conventional applications; a hybrid split beam and imaging sonar system tested for defense related applications, an autonomous, submersible echosounder for long-term seafloor observation, and a towed echosounder specifically engineered for use with a self-propelled, autonomous surface vehicle.

Presentation Link


Evaluation of a New Hydroacoustic Substrate Classification System for Oyster Reef Mapping in Galveston Bay, Texas

Eric Munday , BioSonics, Inc., Seatte, WA

Bill Rodney , Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, East Dickinson, TX

A new hydroacoustic processing software (Visual Habitat) for the assessment and mapping of various substrate types was recently evaluated  using data collected by researchers at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to quantify and map oyster reefs.  Understanding the distribution of oyster reef habitats is vital in guiding restoration and management efforts.  Obtaining quantifiable data on oyster reef resources is important in establishing a baseline and developing an index for monitoring temporal changes.  The study area is a 5.7 sq km rectangular grid of 10 transects spaced 200 m apart.  Hydroacoustic data collected from the study area were processed and the results were plotted over side scan sonar imagery.  Visual Habitat was compared with two previously existing processing tools; QTC Impact, BioSonics VBT, and a TPWD proprietary SAS method.   The results from Visual Habitat showed high agreement with prior results and resulted in a significant reduction in effort as compared to processing with other software.  In addition to the reduction in effort, Visual Habitat provided data visualization tools in the form of a transect map displaying user-defined color gradients for each data layer. Visual Habitat also provided export of results in KML file format for rapid interpretation via Google Earth.

Presentation Link


Using Remote Sensing to Assess Alligator Gar Spawning Habitat Suitability in the Lower Mississippi River Floodplain

Yvonne Allen , US Fish and Wildlife Service, Baton Rouge, LA

Floodplains are an important part of large river ecosystems and the frequency, timing, duration, and spatial extent of inundation drive habitat quality in floodplains and determine the suitability of these important habitats for both aquatic and terrestrial organisms.  Managers have traditionally had very limited information to evaluate and quantify the dynamics of this habitat.  Alligator gar use floodplains in the lower Mississippi River for spawning and have been identified by the USFWS Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCPO LCC) as a species of concern in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.  The goal of this project was to develop broadly applicable, landscape level, spatial data related to the extent of inundation and environmental characteristics of flooding at known river stages on the Lower Mississippi River floodplain through analysis of remotely sensed satellite imagery.  Data products derived from remote sensing were coupled with telemetry observations of habitat use and continuous water quality monitoring on the floodplain at the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge (Natchez, MS) to determine the conditions of inundation, habitat and water quality that may be optimal for alligator gar spawning.  Remote sensing products were then used to compare local conditions on the refuge with locations up and down river to identify other locations that may be suitable for alligator gar spawning.

Presentation Link


DNA Based Predator Stomach Content Analysis for Single and Multiple Prey Species

Gregg Schumer , Genidaqs, A Cramer Fish Sciences business, West Sacramento, CA

Scott Brandl , Animal Science, UC Davis, Davis, CA

Melinda Baerwald , Animal Science, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA

Effects of predation on native fish have not been thoroughly studied due in large part to inherent limitations of traditional stomach content visual analyses. Species-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) is an accurate and extremely sensitive method for identifying DNA from exogenous and endogenous sources. Using locally sequenced barcodes and barcode databases (BOLD, NCBI), many species specific qPCR assays have been designed and are currently in use to detect the presence of prey species from the stomach contents and feces of aquatic and avian predators. These species specific qPCR assays allow for a direct assessment of predation and its impact on native fishes. This presentation highlights the research and development of qPCR as a tool available to resource managers and researchers to analyze the stomach contents of predators for the presence of single and multiple prey items simultaneously, enabling advancements in the study of species interactions.

Presentation Link


Sectorasm Data Entry Android Application for Fisheries Observer Data

Erin Kupcha , Fisheries Sampling Branch, NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA

The Fisheries Sampling Branch (FSB) provides training and certification for observers and at-sea monitors (ASMs) to collect commercial fishing related data while onboard trips in the New England multispecies groundfish fishery. Electronic data collected are uploaded within 48 hours of landing. Information is then edited and audited, loaded to an Oracle database and provided on a daily basis to NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and sector managers. Currently, electronic data are collected using a data entry program, SectorASM. SectorASM is deployed on a Hewlett Packard iPAQ and a Windows Mobile emulator deployed on a Panasonic Toughbook. However, the HP iPAQs were discontinued in April of 2011 and the Panasonic Toughbook’s price tag exceeds $4,000.

The FSB has redesigned the SectorASM application; it is now a single, stand-alone native Android application that collects trip data and associated media. Android allows for a broader and cost-effective hardware selection, a modern touch interface and integrated database. SectorASM targets a tablet platform and utilizes integrated accessories, such as the GPS receiver and built-in camera, to encourage interactive data collection while capturing ancillary data in an error reduced, automated manner. Integrated Wi-Fi is used to facilitate timely transmission of the collected data upon landing.

Presentation Link

Tagged Under:

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.