Remote monitoring of a deep‐sea marine protected area: The Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents
December 13, 2019 - 12:03pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 10/2019
Journal title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Pages: 84 - 102
- Deep‐sea marine protected areas (MPAs) present particular challenges for management. Their remote location means there is limited knowledge of species and habitat distribution, and rates and scales of change. Yet, evaluating the attainment of conservation objectives and managing the impact of human activities both require a quantitative understanding of natural variability in species composition/abundance and habitat conditions.
- Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are collaborating in the development of remote monitoring tools for the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents MPA in the north‐east Pacific. This 98.5 km2 MPA, located 250 km offshore Vancouver Island, encompasses five major fields of hydrothermal vents, at depths of 2200–2400 m. A real‐time cabled observatory was installed at the Endeavour site in 2010.
- Scientific research for the conservation, protection and understanding of the area is permitted within the MPA and is the primary activity impacting the area. Research activities require the use of submersibles for sampling, surveying and observatory infrastructure maintenance. Data and imagery from remotely operated vehicle dives and fixed subsea observatory sensors are archived in real time using ONC's Oceans 2.0 software system, enabling evaluation of the spatial footprint of research activity in the MPA and the baseline level of natural ecosystem change.
- Recent examples of database queries that support MPA management include: (1) using ESRI ArcGIS spatial analysis tools to create kernel density ‘heat maps’ to quantify the intensity of sampling and survey activity within the MPA; and (2) quantifying high‐frequency variability in vent fauna and habitat using sensor and fixed camera data.
- Collaboration between researchers and MPA managers can help mitigate the logistical challenges of monitoring remote MPAs. Recognition at the policy level of the importance of such partnerships could facilitate the extension of scientific missions to support more formal monitoring programmes.