Scientists use hydroacoustics to survey abundance in MPAs

Fish MPAs ocean

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California, were part of an international team that for the first time used hydroacoustics as a method for comparing the abundance of fish within and outside marine protected areas (MPAs).

They found that abundances were four times greater in Mexico’s protected Cabo Pulmo National Park than in areas outside the park. Study authors said that hydroacoustics point the way toward a new, more cost-effective, method of assessing fish populations.

“Managers and authorities in many countries spend a lot of financial resources assessing MPAs,” said study co-author Octavio Aburto, a marine ecologist at Scripps. “The results of this paper demonstrate that it is possible to use acoustic technologies to generate information about marine resources inside MPAs in a faster and less expensive way, reducing the costs for governments in ocean conservation.”

The study, “Hydroacoustics as a tool to examine the effects of Marine Protected Areas and habitat type on marine fish communities,” appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

Cabo Pulmo has been the site of several studies by Scripps researchers since 2002. In 1995, local fishermen led the creation of a 71-square-kilometer (27-square-mile) undersea park to protect the waters they fished.

The current MPA has been identified as the most successful in the world in terms of maintaining a sustainable fishery, in which fleets operate just beyond the boundaries of the MPA.

Read the full article at Science X.

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