University of Western Australia: New video data to help conserve fish populations

Marine researchers will be able to better understand and conserve fish populations around the world, following the release of more than 60,000 hours of underwater video filmed by The University of Western Australia and a team of international collaborators.

The data, which was captured by baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS), covers 150,000 records of more than 250 species from 30 locations globally, and will be available to browse on FishBase, the world’s largest encyclopedia for fish.

“We’re looking forward to transferring more data from our seabed BRUVS, which have been curated over the last 15 years.”

Professor Jessica Meeuwig
The underwater video is published with information that outlines the species, family and location of fish, and allows researchers to benchmark the status of fish populations which helps inform conservation and management activities.

Director of UWA’s Centre for Marine Futures Professor Jessica Meeuwig said the University’s Marine Futures Lab pioneered the extension of seabed-based video sampling to open ocean “pelagic” environments.

“The Centre is delighted to be the first organisation to publicly release its data on FishBase, a trusted platform for information on fish,” Professor Meeuwig said. “We’re also looking forward to transferring more data from our seabed BRUVS, which have been curated over the last 15 years.”

Professor Meeuwig, who is a member of the FishBase Steering Committee, said she hoped other organisations would be inspired to make their own data available to the global research community.

To make the data unconditionally available to the broader scientific community, teams from UWA and Quantitative Aquatics were supported by the Minderoo Foundation.

“I am convinced that the fastest way to make progress on ocean conservation is to share data. By sharing data, we can enhance transparency, reduce duplication of research efforts, and inform the scientific community globally.”

Dr Andrew Forrest AO
Co-Founder and Chair of the Minderoo Foundation, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, said as a PhD student he painstakingly collected data in support of his thesis.

“I am convinced that the fastest way to make progress on ocean conservation is to share data. By sharing data, we can enhance transparency, reduce duplication of research efforts, and inform the scientific community globally,” Dr Forrest said.

“This will speed up the translation of data into knowledge and support better decision-making to improve the health of our oceans.”

Chair of the BRUV’s and FishBase project steering committee and member of the FishBase Board of Trustees, Dr Deng Palomares said bringing the project to life enabled a rich mine of data collected by BRUVS to become widely accessible.

“Scientific progress flourishes through data sharing and as such, there is a need to expand unrestricted access to BRUV’s data by making it accessible to the 500,000 unique users who visit FishBase each month,” Dr Palomares said.

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