The Marine Institute recently led an acoustic survey of herring and boarfish in the oceans to the north, west and south of Ireland to determine the distribution, abundance, health and maturity of the herring and boarfish stocks in Irish waters. The survey also examined the ecology of plankton, seabirds, and marine mammals.
The WESPAS (Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic) Survey took place over a six week period "where scientists on board the RV Celtic Explorer collected acoustic and biological data on herring and boarfish, which will be used to provide an independent measure of these fish stocks in Irish waters" explained chief scientist Ciaran O'Donnell, Marine Institute.
The first leg of the WESPAS survey lasted 23 days and covered the Southwest coast of Ireland, the Porcupine Bank and the Celtic Sea. For the first time, NUI Galway researchers were on board to investigate macroscopic gelatinous zooplankton such as jellyfish and salps in Irish waters. Researchers were also observing the abundance and distribution of seabirds and marine mammals in the offshore waters around Ireland.
For the second leg of the WESPAS survey, scientists were joined by four crew members of the BBC "One Show", who have previously filmed the popular documentary Our Blue Planet. The television crew will produce a series of short documentaries about the work undertaken by scientists on board the WESPAS survey.
The results of the WESPAS survey will be presented to the ICES Working Group Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) in August 2017 and the ICES Herring Assessment Working Group (HAWG) in March 2018. These Groups will use the survey results to determine the fishing opportunities for the industry in 2018.