Development and evaluation of a new high definition self-contained underwater camera system to observe fish and fishing gear in situ

Underwood, Melanie and Winger, Paul D. and Legge, George (2012) Development and evaluation of a new high definition self-contained underwater camera system to observe fish and fishing gear in situ. The Journal of Ocean Technology, 7 (1). pp. 59-70. ISSN 1718-3200

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Abstract

International efforts to reduce the ecological impacts of fishing activity, including by-catch, seabed impacts, and carbon footprint, have encouraged the rapid advancement of fishing gear technology during the past few decades. However, prior to conducting gear modifications, a better understanding of animal behaviour in relation to the fishing gear is often required. The use of self-contained underwater camera systems to observe and quantify such behaviour began in the 1960s and today underwater camera systems are ubiquitous across all major research institutes, government agencies, and large fishing companies. This paper outlines the development and evaluation of a new high definition (HD 1080i/720p) digital video system for observing fish behaviour in relation to fishing gear. Under laboratory conditions, we compare the performance of the new system to four similar camera systems used during the last decade. Our laboratory study results revealed that HD video improved image quality by up to 20% and allowed characteristics of objects as thin as 4 mm to be observed underwater from 4.0 m away. We also tested the HD camera system’s performance at sea attached to an offshore groundfish trawl and found that flatfish such as yellowtail flounder (Limanda ferruginea) could be identified to the species level with a high degree of certainty (72%), something not capable with traditional standard definition camera systems. Although HD cameras increase the image quality, they are limited to shallow environments (< 100m) when operated without the use of artificial lights. Even with the depth restrictions, the HD camera system provides digital solid state recording devices that are more adaptable to the underwater environment than traditional standard definition camera systems.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/231
Item ID: 231
Keywords: High definition video; Underwater camera; Trawl; Fish behaviour.
Department(s): Marine Institute > Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources
Date: 2012
Date Type: Publication

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