Project Title: Analysis and Visualization of Deep Corals and Commercial Fishing Interactions in Southern California
Goal or Purpose

The goal of the project was to understand the distribution of sensitive and vulnerable deep-sea coral and sponge habitat in relation to fishing pressure form deep-water bottom contact fisheries. The project created maps and analyses of the distribution of deep corals, sponges, and fishing debris in relation to commercial demersal fishing effort in Southern California. Observations were drawn from a photographic database of 30,000+ images taken between the years 2003-2011 by NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Sebastes. Maps of demersal fishing effort were derived from landings tickets reported to California Department of Fish and Game 2003-2011.

Anticipated Management Application(s)

The project will identify sensitive and vulnerable deep-sea coral and sponge habitats. Maps and analyses from this effort will help to improve marine spatial management in an established Cowcod Conservation Area, through the identification of essential fish habitat. The project will greatly improve understanding of the growth and distribution of Lophelia pertusa relative to ocean acidification parameters by focusing on Southern California Bight as a natural laboratory.

Fiscal Funding:
  • FY 2011 @ $50,000

 
Region(s):
  • Pacific Council
Location(s):
  • Southern California
Stony corals covered with anchor and fishing line on Seamount 109 within Southern California’s Cowcod Conservation Area. Credit: Dr. John Butler, NOAA Fisheries SWFSC
Project Type:
  • Mapping Fishing Intensity
Point of Contact: Office of the Point of Contact:
  • NOS NCCOS
Team Members:
  • Kevin Stierhoff
  • Stephanie Nehasil
  • Enrique Salgado
Project Title: Analysis and Visualization of Deep Corals and Commercial Fishing Interactions in Southern California
Methods/Approach

Thirty thousand high-resolution images from 45 - 400 m depth were reviewed and digitally “tagged” for the presence of hard corals, soft corals, sponges and debris. Images were assigned coordinates, depth, water temperature, salinity, and oxygen values by cross-referencing the photo with a database of navigation and water chemistry. Fishing effort was derived from Pacific Coast Fisheries GIS Resource database by the United States Geological Survey.

Project Results and Management Outcomes

Having reviewed 15,000 of the 30,000 images, numerous occurrences of deep-sea corals were found, including sea fans (octocorals), black corals, hydrocorals, and scleractinian corals. Also found were several instances of Lophelia pertusa, a globally distributed species which is reportedly rare in the region. Remnants of derelict fishing gear (monofilament lines, nets, and anchor lines) were identified on some reefs.

Using Google Earth, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Benthic Resources (ROV) Group website shows some locations of marine debris, including gill nets, lines, ammunition, and soda and beer bottles. The next iteration will include images of deep-sea corals and sponges, with annual estimates of fishing effort: http://swfsc.noaa.gov/SWFSC_MarineDebris/

Project Title: Analysis and Visualization of Deep Corals and Commercial Fishing Interactions in Southern California
Internal References:
 
Backlinks:
  •  None Defined

FY11_05_image.JPG
Stony corals covered with anchor and fishing line on Seamount 109 within Southern California’s Cowcod Conservation Area. Credit: Dr. John Butler, NOAA Fisheries SWFSC