200752400 - Integrated Non-Lethal Electric Barrier and Sonar System to Deter Marine Mammal Predation on Fish in the Columbia River System: A Demonstration Project

Sponsor: Smith-Root, Inc

Short description: This proposal would develop and evaluate a passive, integrated electric barrier and sonar array that selectively inhibits upstream marine mammal movements and predation on fish, without injuring pinnipeds or affecting anadromous fish migrations.

Location: Lower Columbia province, Columbia Lower subbasin

Budgets: FY08: $615,691 | FY09: $824,792

Primary species:
Anadromous: All Anadromous Salmonids


ObjectiveDescriptionSubbasin planStrategies
1. Sonar Species Discrimination. Develop a sonar system having artificial intelligence and pattern recognition software that can discriminate marine mammals, salmonids and sturgeon in a riverine setting based on a library of known, species signatures obtained in the field. Marine mammals will be discriminated based on the presence of lungs (vs swim bladders), and by their unique swimming patterns. We will determine an acceptable level of species recognition performance based on input and discussions with Columbia Basin co-managers. Lower Columbia OS.M1, OS.M3, I.S2, I.M10, I.H3, I.S3, EI.M11. Develop plan to anage predation by selected species and maintain a viable balance of predator populations, while recovering salmon poulations and protecting other anadromous species.
2. System Integration. Develop, test and integrate the sonar system's artificial intelligence software to cue operation of a passive underwater electric barrier that emits low-level pulsed DC. Monitor and evaluate integration performance to ensure trouble-free system communication based on accepted engineering and software design protocols. Lower Columbia I.S2, I.M10, I.S3 R.S1, R.S7. As an interim recovery strategy, manage predation by selected species and maintain a viable balance of predator populations while protecting anadromous fishes. Address limiting factors and focus on species at risk
3. Effects on Fish Migration. Deploy an electric barrier and a sonar unit in a location where an underwater electric field can be evaluated in terms of its potential effects on fish migratory behavior. Using alternating on/off periods, evaluate the effects of the electric field on fish migratory behavior for a wide range of electrical settings (to address having to increase power output if a pinniped acclimation response evolves in Task 4). Involve fishery managers in on-site monitoring and evaluation of all fieldwork. Lower Columbia I.H2, I.S2, P.M24. Recognize the significance of salmon to the productivity of other species and the salmon themselves. Identify alternative approaches and revise priorities for research.
4. Demonstrate Integrated Barrier System. Deploy the integrated barrier and sonar array in a Columbia River tributary where marine mammal predation on fish populations has been documented. Based on previously established thresholds and the extreme sensitivities of marine mammals to underwater electric fields, evaluate the potential of the barrier to deter upstream movements of marine mammals in rivers, and the ability to exclude marine mammals from established fish predation areas in the Columbia Basin. Monitor and evaluate system performance with oversight from agency biologists, marine mammal specialists, and scientists to ensure a safe deployment and a successful outcome. Lower Columbia I.M10, I.H3, I.S2, OS.M1/2/3, I.S3, EI.M11, P.M24. As an interim recovery strategy, manage predation by selected species and maintain a viable balance of predator populations while recovering fish resources. Identify alternative approaches & priorities.



  • ISRP: Innovative, On-The-Ground, Highly Justified
  • Council: Fundable
  • BPA: Fundable