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Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center

This is an abstract from the 1995 American Fisheries Association meeting in Napa, California.

Regional-scale Seafloor Mapping and Characterization: Application to Fisheries Resource Management

Herman A. Karl, Pat S. Chavez, Jr., John L. Chin, and Richard L. Bernknopf

Acoustic mapping, sediment samples, and photographs of the seafloor provide scientific information useful for issues dealing with resource management, economic importance, and public safety. Sidescan mosaics of the continental shelf and slope provide regional information on the nature of the substrate (type of sediment and undersea landforms). These mosaics are useful for site selection to collect samples of sediment and photographs of the seafloor. The information on the distribution of sediment types provides clues about habitat and to the different organisms that live on, in, and near the seafloor. This information can be used by scientists investigating biodiversity and ecological systems, by fisheries resource managers as a tool to make better informed policy and regulatory decisions, and by commercial and sport fisherman as an aid for locating fish and crabs. In addition to providing information about habitat, the sidescan mosaics can be used to locate areas that may pose a hazard to recreational and commercial fishing activities. For example, about 50,000 containers of radioactive waste were dumped in the Gulf of the Farallones region. Many of these containers can be detected on the sidescan sonar mosaics. Probabilistic hazard maps produced from the mosaics can be used to help identify environmental risks associated with recreational and commercial fishing that are related to previously dumped radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. In this way, the maps help to reconcile and build a consensus among the economic, environmental, resource, and safety interest groups that share the urban ocean.

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