Research Project: Startle Behavior in Fish

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's headquarter in Stavanger, Norway. Photo: NPD.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's headquarter in Stavanger, Norway. Photo: NPD.

Representatives of the Institute of Marine Research and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate met in Stavanger on Tuesday, 25 August for a briefing about the progress of the consequential research project “Startle Behaviour in Fish”, in connection with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s seismic data collection in Vesterålen in the summer of 2009.

The research project has been financed by the NPD and is being implemented by the Institute of Marine Research. The project has a budget of about NOK 25 million. The project aims to determine to what degree fish are startled by seismics and how long this startle effect lasts. The field phase of this research is now nearing completion.

Extensive and very successful data collection over several periods has been carried out to map large-scale fish distribution, fish behaviour and sound propagation in the seismic survey area and in a nearby control area.

Comprehensive, controlled fishing trials have also been carried out with nets and long lines from leased coastal fishing boats. Overall, this has resulted in good data for herring and blue whiting and for the bottom fish species Greenland halibut, Norway haddock, saithe and haddock.

The data basis obtained through the research project is considered to be solid and sufficient to provide a basis for scientific conclusions relating to the startle effect in fish as a result of seismic data collection in the area.

The substantial amount of data which has been collected will now undergo thorough analysis before the results can be made public. The final report from the project will be submitted to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate no later than 1 March 2010.

Source: The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate

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