Net Target Strengths and Stiffness

Work includes measuring target strengths (echo backscatter) and stiffness of gillnets. From these results I've predicted the distances dolphins and porpoises will detect the nets via echolocation.

Acoustic and stiffness properties of gillnets as they relate to small cetacean bycatch

Small cetaceans are incidental bycatch in gillnet fisheries.  Dolphin and porpoise bycatch has been reduced by the use of barium sulphate-enhanced gillnets.  This decreased entanglement is likely the result of either higher acoustic reflectivity or greater stiffness for barium nets.  To address these variables our study quantified the acoustic reflectivity and stiffness of six net types including barium sulphate, iron oxide-enhanced and control demersal gillnets of sizes which typically target cod (Gadus morhua) and monkfish (Lophius americanus).  Acoustic reflectivity, or target strength (TS), was assessed using dolphin and porpoise-like sonar signals from 0˚-40˚.  Target strength values were used to calculate likely detection ranges.  Barium sulphate and iron oxide-enhanced nets showed increased reflectivity compared to control nets, with the barium sulphate nets generating the highest TS values.  Dolphins should detect these nets in time to avoid contact,  but porpoises, with typically lower source levels, may not detect nets at a range great enough to avoid entanglement.  Barium sulphate line was significantly stiffer than comparable nylon line.  All lines lost stiffness when soaked in seawater for 24 h.  Barium sulphate nets proved stiffer and more acoustically reflective, and both factors are likely important in reducing harbor porpoise bycatch.

Mooney TA, Au, WWL, Nachtigall PE, and Trippel, EA. 2007. Acoustic and stiffness properties of gillnets as they relate to small cetacean bycatch. 64(7): 1324-1332. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Funding Agencies

The National Science Foundation under grant number XXX and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration under grant number XXX funded this research.

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This is a joint project with Institution Number One, College Number Two, Organization Number Three, and Corporation Number Four.