For more than a decade, the Simrad–Kongsberg (Simrad) EK60 echosounder has been a worldwide standard for providing estimates of fish biomass and distributions, conducting ecosystem surveys, and observing the behaviours of aquatic organisms and their associations with oceanographic and seabed environments. However, components of EK60 general purpose transceivers (GPTs) are no longer commercially available, the GPT-control and data acquisition software, ER60, is no longer developed, and both have been recently superseded by the more advanced Simrad EK80 echosounder system. To facilitate a rapid and successful transition to the operational use of EK80, it is necessary to ensure the continuation of accurate and precise measurements used in time-series for stock assessments and marine ecosystem research.
At recent meetings of the USA–Norway Science Bilateral on Fisheries and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Fisheries Acoustic Science and Technology Working Group, scientists discussed the terms of reference for conducting an EK80 workshop. NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego, California, USA was chosen as the location for the workshop because of its state-of-the-art Ocean Technology Development Tank and access to ship time on board NOAA’s FSV “Reuben Lasker”. The EK80 workshop was scheduled in two phases: laboratory tank experiments conducted during 6–9 and 12–16 September 2016 and field experiments conducted during 19–23 September 2016. Workshop participants were from the USA, Norway, France, and Australia.
This workshop report provides technical results and recommendations that are necessary to expedite the operational use of EK80 in standardized surveys and to improve scientific information for the conservation and management of living marine resources. As more is learned about the EK80 wideband transceiver (WBT), its firmware and software will be refined by the manufacturer (Lars Andersen, Simrad, pers. comm.). Accordingly, commercial analysis software will be revised (Briony Hutton, Echoview [https://www.echoview.com/], and Rolf Korneliussen, Large Scale Survey System [LSSS; http://cmr.no/projects/10396/lsss/], pers. comms.). Recommended settings and algorithms for data collection and analysis will be collaboratively optimized for research and operational surveys. This report documents the state of the technology as of September 2016. There will likely be future EK80 workshops with updated reports