International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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Working Group on Fisheries Acoustics, Science and Technology (WGFAST)

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posted on 2022-07-01, 11:29 authored by ICESICES

The Working Group of Fisheries Acoustics, Science and Technology (WGFAST) focuses on the development and application of science and technology to observe the marine environment. In this report, WGFAST summarizes 40 presentations addressing the three themes: “Acoustic meth-ods to characterize populations, ecosystems, habitat, and behaviour”, “Acoustic characterization of marine organisms”, and “Emerging technologies, methodologies, and protocols”, and dis-cussions addressing these three themes. Common themes throughout these sessions were the increasing use of autonomous vehicles for collecting data and the increasing use of advanced statistical methodologies to process and quantitatively interpret acoustic data. Acoustical, envi-ronmental, and biological data collected by a variety of mobile and stationary platforms provide multiple data streams to characterize ecosystems, and many of the presentations highlighted statistical methodologies to utilize long term dataseries to improve our understanding of how ecosystems change in response to human and natural stressors.

This report also summarizes WGFAST survey, research, and publication output for 2020 through 2022, and connections to other ICES expert groups. WGFAST reviewed its response to the Work-ing Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) query about acoustic extinction and its ef-fect on abundance estimates of schooling fish, and the ICES Cooperative Research Report Col-lecting Quality Echosounder Data in Inclement Weather. Additionally, WGFAST discussed fu-ture plans for the working group, including details for the 2023 WGFAST/ICES Symposium and publication of its proceedings.

WGFAST is a leader in transforming “Big Data” to information that is used to conserve and manage ecosystems and contributes to a number of activities in this area of development. WGFAST is co-hosting a theme session with the Working group on Machine Learning in Marine Science (WGMLEARN) at the 2022 ICES Annual Science Conference. WGFAST will assess how its use of acoustic symbols and definitions corresponds to internationally recognized definitions by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). With a goal of advancing the use of fisheries acoustic data in fisheries and ecosystem science, WGFAST continues to promote devel-opment of open-source data formats (SONAR-netCDF4), metadata (AcMETA), and open-source software through active participation in subgroups and postings to the ICES and WGFAST GitHub sites.

This report pays tribute to Ron Mitson who was a pioneer in the field of fisheries acoustics and provides a policy to celebrate past members.


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Expert Group or Strategic Initiative



ICES Scientific Reports





Contributors (Editors)

Michael Jech

Contributors (Authors)

Michael Jech



Recommended citation

ICES. 2022. Working Group of Fisheries Acoustics, Science and Technology (WGFAST). ICES Scientific Reports. 4:54. 93 pp.

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