BotCam: a baited camera system for nonextractive monitoring of bottomfish species

Issue:

Author(s): 
Merritt, Daniel, Mary K. Donovan, Christopher Kelley, Lynn Waterhouse, Michael Parke, Kevin Wong, and Jeffrey C. Drazen
Cover date: 
2011
Pages: 
56–67
Abstract: 

A stereo-video baited camera system (BotCam) has been developed as a fishery-independent tool to monitor and study deepwater fish species and their habitat. During testing, BotCam was deployed primarily in water depths between 100 and 300 m for an assessment of its use in monitoring and studying Hawaiian bottomfish species. Details of the video analyses and data from the pilot study with BotCam in Hawai`i are presented. Multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data were used to delineate bottomfish habitat strata, and a stratified random sampling design was used for BotCam deployment locations. Video data were analyzed to assess relative fish abundance and to measure fish size composition. Results corroborate published depth ranges and zones of the target species, as well as their habitat preferences. The results indicate that BotCam is a promising tool for monitoring and studying demersal fish populations associated with deepwater habitats to a depth of 300 m, at mesohabitat scales. BotCam is a flexible, nonextractive, and economical means to better understand deepwater ecosystems and improve science-based ecosystem approaches to management.