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New sonar technology could boost fish counts

By Jay Lindsay
Associated Press / November 19, 2011

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BOSTON—Sen. John Kerry wants federal regulators to put $1 million toward a developing sonar technology that could bring new clarity to the science of counting fish.

Accurate counts are crucial because they're used to set catch limits, which can put a fisherman out of business -- or cause unintended overfishing -- if they're set too high or low.

A developer of the OAWRS (OH-werz) system says it can open up an underwater view comparable to a full-screen movie, as opposed to the tiny "pixels" of the picture researchers glimpse today.

The system sends out sound waves in all directions, providing instant readings on fish and other objects from an area hundreds of kilometers across. That dwarfs what today's research trawlers cover.

There are still big questions about how well the sonar can identify specific fish.