Published January 2017

BIM Study Ireland: Acoustic Deterrent Device to Mitigate Seal Interactions

The BIM field study was conducted in Ireland through a partnership of MaREI (Center for Marine and Renewable Energy), ERI (Environmental Research Institute), and UCC (University College Park, Ireland).


Background:  Seals pose a substantial threat to the livelihoods of fishermen operating along the western and southern Irish coasts. Damages to catches caused by seals (depredation) ranged from 59% of monkfish, 18% of pollack and 10% of hake catches over the course of 12 months of extensive on board observations on inshore and offshore vessels. The field study sought to determine whether Targeted Acoustic Startle Technology can assist catchers by reducing seal depredation and bycatch and help create an environmentally sustainable commercial fishing environment.

OverviewJigging Fishery, southwest coast- Two inshore vessels participated in the study based out of Ventry, Co. Kerry: Vessel 1 (Deep Cove, Registration number T133), an 8.73 m vessel consisting of 4.21 Gross Tones (GT) and a 68.24 KW engine output; Vessel 2 (Kate Marie, Registration number S13), an 11.3 m vessel of 8.59 GT and an engine output of 83 KW. Gillnetter Fishery, west/southwest coast One offshore vessel based out of Dingle, Co. Kerry is currently participating in the study.

A total of 236 drifts were observed on board both jigging vessels over 10 days (Table 3), with the acoustic deterrent device deployed during 95 drifts.

Results: There was an estimated reduction in predation (basic model) of 50%. Although the numbers of depredated fish were extremely low, depredation was higher when playback was off. The study fieldwork, including a subsequent preliminary analysis, demonstrated clear promise of TAST’s potential to “significantly reduce the economic impact of seal-induce damage to fishery catches.”  When TAST was active and fully functional (not including when it was off or not fully functional), a total of only twelve (12) fish were depredated by seals, making up just 0.46% of the total catch.

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