Sonar monitors California squid fishery

February 7, 2006

California's $30-million-a-year squid industry has quadrupled during the past decade and now scientists are using sonar to assess squid stocks.

A multi-institutional team of scientists this month reported a new sonar technique to locate squid egg clusters in the murky depths of the ocean, offering a window onto next year's potential squid population.

The scientists demonstrated the new sonar method off the coast of Monterey, Calif., where fishermen harvest squid in April and May as the squid return to spawn and lay clusters of finger-sized egg capsules on the seafloor.

"This method provides an efficient way to map distributions and estimate abundances of squid eggs and monitor them year to year to get a census for next year's population," said Kenneth Foote, a marine acoustics expert at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and lead author of project.

"It has immediate potential to give resource managers sound scientific information to make decisions on how to sustain the fishery. Otherwise, they're just guessing."

The research is reported in the February issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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