PhD student Michelle Masi collaborates with NMFS

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - On Oct 17, 2016, Michelle Masi successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "An ecosystem-based approach to reef fish management in the Gulf of Mexico". In collaboration with the National Marine Fisheries Service, she used an ecosystem model to evaluate potential harvest control rules for use in Gulf of Mexico reef fish fisheries management. Her results suggested that using an adaptive management approach has the potential to improve fisheries yields while simultaneously increasing abundance and biodiversity of the reef fish assemblage. Joining as members of her academic committee were Dr. Michael Schirripa of NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami, and Dr. Isaac Kaplan of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Michelle Masi is a PhD Candidate in the Marine Resource Assessment program. She was recently hired to a full-time stock assessment position at the Fisheries and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, FL. 

The Camera-Based Assessment Survey System (C-BASS)

ST. PETERSBURG - With support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, scientists and technicians from the College of Marine Science and its Center for Ocean Technology, led by 
Steve Murawski and Chad Lembke, have developed a unique towed camera array system (C-BASS) to allow high resolution sampling of reef fishes and simultaneous habitat evaluations.  The primary motivation for the development of C-BASS is to develop absolute abundance estimates of reef fishes such as red snapper for use in setting fishery total allowable catch quotas.

Our system is equipped to process and record video from both analog and digital video cameras and currently 6 cameras are filming simultaneously. Environmental and system data sampled from an altimeter, compass, CTD, and fluorometer are also recorded.   There is a laser system used to calibrate size measurements of the scenes being filmed and a Didson forward-looking sonar to detect fish movements in response to the C-BASS.  The system was designed to operate in up to 250 meters of water (about 800 feet) but with modifications can be used much deeper.  Two custom manufactured Bridgelux 85 watt array LED lights provide illumination for the video cameras during low light deployments. Scientific sensors, including a WETLabs FLNTU fluorometer and a Falmouth Scientific 2” Micro-CTD are installed on the frame in order to better understand the environmental aspects of the assessment.  An altimeter is also mounted to the frame to ensure proper platform height above the seabed.

Initial trials and experiments with C-BASS have indicated that this system is highly capable of imaging reef fishes and assessing the habitat requirements of fishes encountered.  This system has the potential to revolutionize the assessment and management of fisheries for reef fishes in Florida and throughout tropical areas of the world.