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A New Technology for Ocean Conservation

Innovative Underwater Noise Detectors Technology Transforms Approaches to Marine Research and Fish Stock Protection
Mar 19th 2024
A New Technology for Ocean Conservation

The oceans, often envisioned as vast blue expanses harboring the mysteries of the deep and unexplored ecosystems, are now closer to revealing their secrets thanks to the efforts of scientists involved in the SOUND project (Swarm of Underwater Noise Detectors). In marking the successful completion of its first year, the Schmidt Foundation's SOUND project, part of the Global Fisheries Tech Initiative, has released a video highlighting the progress and achievements of the SOUND project, featuring contributions from the teams at the University of Haifa, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb, and the Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI).

SOUND pioneers the use of cost-effective Lagrangian floaters equipped with state-of-the-art acoustic technology promising to support non-invasive aquaculture, aid fishermen, and substantially reduce bycatch. At the heart of this technology lies the integration of underwater acoustics and marine robotics, emphasizing the development of low-cost, autonomous devices capable of accurately measuring fish stocks. This method, merging deep analysis with machine learning, considerably advances our approach to researching and protecting our marine ecosystems.

"At first glance, the SOUND project might seem like science fiction: swarms of inexpensive Lagrangian floaters, independent maritime explorers, drifting with the currents, ''listening'' to the whisper of the ocean. Their mission? Acoustic detection of fish and biomass assessment, executed with ease and precision, all without disturbing the delicate balance of the underwater ecosystem. This technology allows scientists to ''see'' beneath the waves in ways previously unimaginable, enabling detailed monitoring of marine life in real time," explains Dr. Neven Cukrov, the coordinator of the RBI team.

Designed and implemented by an international team of experts, including groups from the University of Haifa, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb, and the Ruđer Bošković Institute, the project has successfully deployed its first five prototype floaters.

"The innovation of the SOUND project also lies in its approach to achieving a balance between technological advancement and nature conservation. Through simple implementation that does not require additional permits, SOUND offers non-invasive support to aquaculture and helps fishermen reduce bycatch, especially in remote and developing areas," highlights Dr. Cukrov.

Funded by the Schmidt Foundation through a generous grant of $3.5 million as part of the Global Fisheries Tech Initiative, the SOUND project represents a significant investment in sustainable fisheries. With total eligible costs amounting to $404,800, the project stands as a testament to the power of international collaboration and innovation in tackling some of the most pressing challenges facing our oceans.

The SOUND project marks an important step towards a sustainable future for the oceans, serving as a successful example of how smart technology and ecological awareness can go hand in hand, opening a new era in the conservation of marine ecosystems.

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