Video Highlights from Baited Remote Underwater Video System from NSCC & CBFHA

St. Anns Bank (SAB) Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Community-based Monitoring of Marine Species

A successful MPA brings positive experiences or assets to a community despite the fact that it decreases harvesting area. The St. Anns Bank MPA has had mixed reviews within the fishing community: the assets or positive experiences are not yet apparent. By engaging the community in the research, fish harvesters will be able to evaluate for themselves the value of the MPA. Those not directly involved will have access to those stories and to the data analysis either through direct presentations or via the organization's webpage.

The CBFHA has been working both independently and in collaboration with other organizations in the marmites to monitor in the newly designated marine protected area (MPA) in the St. Anns Bank. The CBFHA has been collecting fisheries data since 2011 in the lobster fishery employing technicians under the direction of volunteer lobster harvesters. Our work in the St. Anns Bank began with a partnership with the Nova Scotia Community Collage (NSCC).

Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is committed to building Nova Scotia’s economy and quality of life through education and innovation.  NSCC’s Applied Research department helps the College realize its mission by working with industry partners to grow their businesses, and supporting government departments (Provincial and Federal) through applied research activities. The Applied Oceans Research group (AORG), led by Dr. Craig Brown (NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Integrated Ocean Mapping Technologies) has secured more than $4million of collaborative research grants in the past 4 years, with projects primarily focusing on the application of ocean technologies to provide improved information for effective marine stewardship. AORG have worked closely with the fishing industry on the application of seafloor maps and underwater imaging technologies (acoustic and optical) for effective fisheries management, and with Federal government departments on MPA mapping and monitoring projects. AORG are also part of the Canadian Healthy Ocean Network (CHONe II - https://chone2.ca).\

Engaging the fishing community in monitoring and exploring the St. Anns Bank MPA (2016-2019)

The CBFHA has received a contribution from DFO to engage the inshore fishing industry in monitoring and exploring, through research, the St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area. The project has 2 parts:

  1. At sea data collection in commercial fisheries operating in Zones 2 to 4
  2. Observing the seafloor suing remote video systems. The project is nearing its completion date of March 2019.

Part 1 of the project experienced several challenges. At sea monitoring is limited to only 25% of the MPA. That fact compounded with fisheries management rules of our inshore species (short seasons and small quota allocations) place serious constraints on how much fish harvesters can participate in this project and also force fish harvesters to target only species for which they have quota thus limiting its scope for assessing diversity and distribution of marine species. The CBFHA has learned many lessons through this project through those challenges, but more so, it has confirmed that engaging fish harvesters in monitoring and exploring the MPA is essential to appreciating the contribution that MPAs can potentially bring to enhance our fisheries.

Part 2 of the project was aided by seafloor habitat maps of the MPA have been developed by NSCC AORG through the CHONe project (Lacharite et al., 2017). These maps (Figure 1) have been used for designing surveys for targeted deployments of Baited Remote Underwater Video systems to assess benthic megafauna.

Figure 1: Seafloor habitat map of St. Ann’s Bank MAP derived from multibeam sonar data and underwater video data (from Lacharite et al, 2017).

Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV’s)

The CBFHA has partnered with NSCC’s Applied Oceans Research Group on a proof-of-concept project to monitor the St. Anns Bank MPA using Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS). The CBFHA has deployed these cameras since 2016 capturing images from the seafloor. NSCC has extensive experience in the design, fabrication, deployment and analysis of data from underwater camera systems, with several new underwater camera systems in development by AORG. This project aims at further developing these cameras and adapting them to capture images from the fish traps to determine their effectiveness as well as their impact on the seafloor and its sponges and corals.

Figure 2. The BRUV system as designed by NSCC Applied Ocean Research Group (AORG) showing set up in commercial lobster fishing trap.

 

Fish Traps

The CBFHA proposes the use of fish traps in combination with underwater camera systems, as a way to monitor the diversity of marine species in the MPA and the effectiveness of fish traps as appropriate gear. Fish traps are more appropriate sampling gear for a Marine Protected Area because:

  1. Fish traps, similar to lobster or snow crab traps, trap live individuals without causing any physical damage to the animals (Dan Edwards, pers.com. 2018).
  2. Fish traps have a small footprint on the bottom and thus are expected to have little impact on the seafloor and associated species (namely sponges and corals).

By deploying cameras on the fish traps, NSCC and CBFHA hope to assess the performance of traps in terms of their effect on bottom substrates and associated species (Gauthier, 2017) and their efficiency in trapping marine species to measure density and diversity.

Sampling Locations in SAB MPA

MPA Sampling locations

The CBFHA has been sampling in the MPA since 2016. We have the capacity to build baseline datasets that can then be used to determine any additional productivity from the SAB MPA.

We have data from Halibut in Green

We took on the Cod Sentinel Project in 2019 with sampling locations in yellow

The BRUVs are marked in purple