Associating remotely sensed seafloor types with groundfish species in Hecate Strait




Grandin, Christopher John

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Traditional stock assessment methods do not incorporate remotely sensed ecosystem variables such as seafloor type, relief, and complexity. Incorporation of these and other ecosystem variables allows for targeting of species' optimal habitat during surveys. Recently, acoustic remote sensing methods have allowed us to gain insight into groundfish habitat. In June 2002, a geophysical survey was performed in selected fishing areas of Hecate Strait. While underway, single beam acoustic data were collected along survey lines utilizing a 50 kHz echosounder coupled with Quester-Tangent's QTC VIEW 5; a Huntec seismic system, and a dual frequency sidescan sonar system. Surficial sediment distribution and seabed features were mapped through examination of seismic, sidescan, and bottom grab data and compiled into a GIS. The surficial sediment classes were compared to bottom type classifications obtained from QTC single beam, with results showing the Gravel and Sand class from the surficial sediment data being classified best by the single beam system. Catch data from the groundfish bottom trawl fishery for the areas of interest were made available by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The distribution of groundfish aggregates and individual fish species were compared to surficial sediment classes using correspondence analysis to investigate habitat associations. Results show that the Rock Sole aggregate had a habitat preference of gravel and sand mixture and the Dover Sole and Arrowtooth Flounder aggregates had a habitat preference of sandy mud. Correspondence analysis allows for a 2-dimensional view of multivariate categorical data which are the norm for habitat-based biological studies. Results suggest that the procedures developed in this work can improve stock assessment methodology and indicate that using various acoustic remote sensing techniques can be effective in characterizing seafloor habitats and ecological connections between groundfish species and seafloor types.



ocean bottom, groundfishes, remote sensing, Hecate Strait