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Marine Resources

2018:  FEB

September 2017 Issue

Shipping Cooperates with
Killer Whale Research

The Chamber of Shipping says the recovery of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale is a top priority for its members. Existing science indicates that the species faces three anthropogenic threats, including contaminated water, a lack of prey and physical and acoustic disturbance. Research suggests that underwater noise from vessels can interfere with killer whale communications, constraining the ability to hunt and navigate. It also suggests that vessels operating at lower speeds typically generate less underwater noise.

The Chamber of Shipping’s member companies have indicated their full support for the two-month trial to reduce vessel transit speeds through Haro Strait to 11 kt. starting August 6. Haro Strait is a prime feeding area for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. Researchers will measure the change in underwater noise from the speed reduction in Haro Strait. Additionally, the commercial marine industry will collect data to determine the impact of the slowdown as it relates to safety, supply chain efficiency and commercial operations.

Recommendations for Coastal
Resilience Grants

Nineteen research projects that protect life and property, strengthen the economy and conserve and restore coastal and marine resources were recommended to receive a total of $13.8 million in funding through the 2017 NOAA Coastal Resilience Grants program. The projects cover 17 states and Puerto Rico, and will restore 1,100 acres of habitat and prepare more than 350 coastal communities to withstand extreme weather and related hazards.

Every $2 of federal funds must be matched by a nonfederal contribution of at least $1 by the project organizers, adding another $8.3 million and bringing the total to $22.1 million.

State and local government agencies and NGOs will use these funds to improve their ability to prepare for and recover from a variety of coastal threats, including hurricanes, tsunamis and sea level rise.

MH370 Survey Produces Map
With Much Higher Resolution

The release of bathymetry data by Geoscience Australia has revealed seafloor maps with a resolution 15 times higher than those previously produced using satellite data. The bathymetric survey, conducted by Fugro during phase one of the search for missing flight MH370, has provided a detailed map of the seafloor topography in the search area.

Following the disappearance March 2014 of the Malaysia Airlines flight, the southern Indian Ocean search, led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, is one of the largest marine surveys ever conducted.

Manual for Passive Acoustics

The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Quality Assurance/Quality Control of Real-Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) Project has published the “Manual for Real-Time Quality Control of Passive Acoustics Observations.” This manual is the 11th in a series of documents that offer guidance for ensuring the highest possible quality of real-time data.

Scientists employ passive acoustics technology to monitor underwater noise and ocean processes. Passive acoustics involves monitoring underwater noise for long periods, which results in large data sets that present a special challenge for passive acoustics telemetry. There are many dozens of acoustic networks around the world, generating hundreds of terabytes of data. Real-time acoustic data QC is critical.

Examining Decom Options
For Platform Holly

When Venoco Inc. declared bankruptcy last spring and ceded its offshore lease, the state of California “inherited” the 50-year-old Platform Holly off the coast of Santa Barbara. Now the state must decide how to decommission the platform. The 2010 California Marine Resources Legacy Act provides an option for the platform substructure to remain in place as an artificial reef. The decision on platform decommissioning will eventually need to be made for all the remaining platforms off southern California. To inform the decommissioning process, a team from UC Santa Barbara is partnering with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to determine the biological effects for various platform removal scenarios. The researchers will provide an analysis of the community structure and the productivity of platforms compared to surrounding soft-bottom habitats. The research will also examine the changes to habitats that would result from alternative decommissioning options.

River Herring at Near-Historic
Lows Atlantic Coast-Wide

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Shad and River Herring Management Board reviewed the results of the 2017 River Herring Assessment Update, which indicates river herring remain depleted and at near-historic lows on a coast-wide basis. The “depleted” determination was used instead of “overfished” and “overfishing” because many factors, not just directed and incidental fishing, are contributing to the low abundance of river herring.

Alewife and blueback herring (collectively referred to as river herring) are anadromous species, spending the majority of their life at sea and returning to their natal streams to spawn. While at sea, mixing is believed to occur among multiple river-specific stocks, and the incidental catch of river herring in nontargeted ocean fisheries is known to include both immature and mature fish. While status on a coast-wide basis remains unchanged, there are some positive signs of improvement for some river systems, with increasing abundance trends for a number of rivers in the Mid-Atlantic throughout the New England region. While abundance in these river systems are still at low levels, dam removals and improvements to fish passage have had a positive impact on run returns.

Since the completion of the 2012 assessment, NOAA Fisheries, in partnership with the commission, have worked to provide state and local agencies with restoration project funding, leading to dam removals and fish passage improvement projects.

2018:  FEB

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