Advancing sustainable shellfish aquaculture through machine learning and automated data collection on fish communities

PI: Sanderson, Beth (NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center)
Co-PI(s): Scheuerell, Mark (U.S. Geological Survey and University of Washington) : Ferriss, Bridget (NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center)
Start Year: 2020 | Duration: 2 years
Partners: NOAA, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Washington, Microsoft, Taylor Shellfish

Project Abstract:

Understanding the ecological implications of converting nearshore habitat to shellfish production is a key impediment to streamlining permitting decisions in the sustainable expansion of shellfish aquaculture. Through collaboration with the aquaculture industry in Washington, the principal investigators have collected over 450 hours of underwater video on shellfish farms to quantify fish communities affiliated with these habitats, but are limited by the time required for analysis. Using machine learning to automate video processing will permit us to expand this collaborative, industry-supported data stream to improve our understanding of the ecological function of shellfish aquaculture in Washington and around the country, inform public perception on the marine ecology surrounding these farms, and facilitate consultations on essential fish habitat and permitting. We are collaborating with Microsoft AI for Earth/Good to develop a machine learning model to expedite video processing and are uniquely positioned to now transition from the developmental to operational phase. This proposal seeks to (1) Transition this Microsoft-developed machine learning model to the NOAA-supported Video and Image Analytics for Marine Environments platform; (2) Make the model operational and test it on an existing partially labelled dataset to assess accuracy, develop analysis protocols, and prepare the dataset for use in data analysis; and (3) Facilitate future use of the tool by producing documentation that guides other researchers in their use of the model. Through the use of artificial intelligence, we can advance the sustainable development of shellfish aquaculture, addressing NOAA’s strategic investment areas of (A) Increasing American seafood production and competitiveness, and (B) Powering the American blue economy through expanding ocean science partnerships in exploration and technological innovation.