NCCOS is developing new tools to help conserve essential fish habitat and provide managers more effective strategies that reduce uncertainty and lower risk to fisheries. Recent NCCOS advances in the technology of coupling acoustic telemetry and habitat mapping were presented at the 2020 Annual American Fisheries Society (AFS) virtual meeting.
Since 2006 NCCOS has monitored movement and residence time of fish in several coastal ecosystems to document habitat preferences, the timing and scales of their mobility, and establish how habitats are linked through fish movements. The project helps managers understand the effectiveness of marine protected area boundaries and guide habitat management decisions.
One of the tools being developed is acoustic telemetry, where underwater hydroacoustic receivers are placed in strategic locations such as National Parks, National Marine Sanctuaries, and National Estuarine Research Reserves. Radio transmitters are surgically implanted into target fish species to record their movements to better understand spatial and temporal movement patterns. The data reveals the sizes of species’ home range, migratory patterns, and habitat preferences which can better inform the setting of boundaries for protected areas.
At the 2020 Annual AFS virtual meeting, NCCOS’ Mark Monaco, presented an update on NCCOS acoustic telemetry capabilities to better define ecologically important habitats based on fish spatial and temporal movement patterns. Entitled “The Coupling of Habitat Maps and Acoustic Telemetry to Define Biologically Important Areas in Tropical Marine Ecosystems,” the approximately 18 minute narrated presentation is available for viewing above.