Experimental Video Monitoring Installed at Stony Brook Herring Run

BREWSTER – An experimental video monitoring system was installed at the Stony Brook herring run in Brewster Tuesday to count juvenile herring.

Association to Preserve Cape Cod intern, and master’s program student at Antioch University New England, Christopher George is conducting the experiment which will analyze round-the-clock video data collected with an underwater camera using facial recognition software.

“There seemed to be a need or lack of information – gap in knowledge – around the migration of juvenile herring out from the pond to the sea,” George said.

The camera was set in a plywood housing within the concrete fishway next to the gristmill wheel, where conservation agents in Brewster deployed an electronic counter during adult migration in the spring.

George is working with the town, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and is under academic and scientific advisement from APCC, MIT SeaGrant and Antioch University.

“Our hope is a long-term monitoring program that can successfully count fish, or count the juvenile fish – which is tricky because they are so small and numerous,” George said.

The juvenile stages are a critical point in the lifecycle of the herring fishery and accurate counting of the young fish can help to better manage the fish stock.

Analyzing the video with facial recognition software could provide useful data about the productivity and health of the ponds where the herring hatch.

The project will complement the APCC’s volunteer herring count program, which relies on volunteers to conduct visual counts to obtain run size estimates to determine population size.

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