Australian Fisheries Research and Development reviews (eg FRDC 95/055) identify the need for non-destructive fishery independent stock assessment techniques for both target and non-target species, and the benthic habitats that many species occupy. There is also the need to develop and validate cost effective techniques that facilitate the comparison of data collected over a range of temporal and spatial scales for benthos, reef and inter reef fishes. To allow bona fide spatial and temporal comparisons of data, techniques need to minimise many of the biases inherent in fisheries and benthic habitat assessments. Subsequently there is also the need to standardise the methods and techniques that are being used by marine researchers around Australia in both shallow subtidal and deepwater environments.
Around Australia, and indeed the world, underwater video is seen as a tool that can satisfy many of the needs described above in both shallow and deepwater research. Consequently it is being adopted very quickly for the non-destructive sampling of a very broad range of organisms.
Unfortunately many researchers do not know how to maximise the information and data resulting from their recordings. Furthermore, while it is very easy to record a lot of information, the processing of images can be laborious resulting in a “bottleneck” in data analysis.
There is the need to make researchers aware of the possibilities and limitations of underwater videography as a tool and to determine the key concerns and research needs and wants. This would be achieved by involving key individuals from state fisheries agencies and academic institutions in the proposed workshop.
Increasing environmental concerns and policy shifts toward more holistic fishery ecosystem management have resulted in demand for rapid, non-destructive assessment techniques for sensing both target and non-target species in fisheries and mariculture, and for mapping benthic habitats. Underwater video is part of a suite of complimentary remote sensing tools that are being developed to fulfil this requirement in Australia and around the world. Rapid advances in video technology and image analysis have enabled wide adoption of this sampling approach to a variety of applications.
In September 2000, a three-day workshop was held on Rottnest Island, Western Australia, to share these advances, and identify gaps and opportunities in the national outlook for video techniques. The ultimate aim was to develop a Research and Development Plan for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, for a coordinated approach to new applications of the video tools and to help overcome bottlenecks in their development.
The workshop attracted 42 participants by invitation from key research and industry organisations in all States and from overseas. The workshop format aimed to share and concentrate experience and expertise from the full range of disciplines relevant to field deployment and application of the technique, image acquisition, calibration and analysis.