Size-dependent frequency response of sandeel schools
Johnsen, E., Pedersen, R., and Ona, E. 2009. Size-dependent frequency response of sandeel schools. - ICES Journal of Marine Science, 66: 1100-1105.Annual Norwegian sandeel surveys have been conducted in the North Sea since 2005 to measure the stock of lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus). Target identification is often a major challenge in acoustic surveys, and discriminant analyses have been used to separate echoes accurately from schools of herring, mackerel, and sandeel based on their acoustic-frequency responses measured at 18, 38, 120, and 200 kHz. At two fishing grounds during the 2008 survey, 332 schools were identified as sandeel, based on the characteristics of the acoustic signal, and validated by trawl samples. The schools consisted almost entirely of 1-year-old sandeels on one of the grounds, and 2-year-olds on the other. In this study, the potential of acoustic-frequency responses is advanced to classify the sizes of fish in them. A discriminant analysis using frequency responses as independent variables was able to differentiate between sandeel schools comprising 1- and 2-year-old fish (p < 0.001). Approximately 83% of the 2-year-old fish and 77% of the 1-year-old fish were classified correctly. The frequency responses at 18 and 38 kHz were the most important independent variables. Sandeel landings in the North Sea are normally dominated by 1- and 2-year-old sandeels in the first half of the year. This study revealed that these two age classes could be identified acoustically; a finding that may be important for acoustic surveys of sandeels and for management of the commercial sandeel fishery.