Developing AUV strategies and technologies for the monitoring of benthic impacts in Marine Protected Areas

Lead Research Organisation: Scottish Association For Marine Science
Department Name: Scottish Association For Marine Science


This project aims to test and evaluate the use of AUV technologies to survey and monitor benthic habitats in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Increasingly autonomous and remote sensing technologies are being seen as an important tool by which MPAs are monitored in the future (Wynn et al., 2012). This project aims to test the suitability of AUVs to monitor MPAs on the west coast of Scotland and to develop viable strategies for their use. In addition, the project will explore novel technologies and models to develop a 'toolbox' of AUV-based approaches that can be applied to a wide range of vulnerable benthic habitats. The project will develop novel algorithmic approaches to combine new very high resolution AUV acoustic bathymetric data with existing models to generate predictive habitat maps at unprecedented spatial resolutions for a range of MPA habitats. The ultimate goal is to develop generic approaches which can be applied in other dynamic inshore coastal environments. The aim will be to develop approaches which are readily reproducible and defensible. In addition, a large number of commercial and applied projects have an interest in mapping habitats on the seabed. These projects range from renewables, fibre-optic cables to fish farm location and modelling.


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Description An autonomous vehicle can be utilised as a multi functional tool in marine spatial planning; from concept and planning to implementation and monitoring in order to promote multi-scale effective and adaptive management of the marine environment encompassing seabed features, habitats and species.
Produced the first habitat maps and predictive habitat maps for Chilean Patagonia.
Produced the first habitat maps and predictive habitat maps using a Teledyne GAVIA Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.
Developed in -situ monitoring of elasmobranchs (Sharks, skates and rays) using and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.
Developed alternative methods of collecting seabed data on commercially important marine species (king scallops) by combining photogrammetry and machine learning in identifying cheap and effective methods of assessing live scallops densities across wide areas and comparing survey data with traditional methods (SCUBA divers).
Exploitation Route Marine managers and scallop fishers working together to assess and maintain sustainable scallop stocks, limiting the need for illegal fishing within marine protected areas and lowering the risk to scallop divers.
Government ability to assess scallop stocks and compare change over time.
Researchers can assess the short and long term mobility of scallops, compare dredge sites and highlight how often is suitable for dredging the same site.- Seabed complexity, rejuvenation, population. Whilst also assessing seabed damage and rejuvenation of habitats through time.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Other