Symposium State of the Art of Habitat Monitoring

November 6-8, 2023. Concepción, Chile.

Symposium on the

“State of Art of Habitat Monitoring”

SPRFMO Habitat Monitoring Working Group

Mariano Gutiérrez
Aquiles Sepúlveda

The SPRFMO is committed to the long term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources of the South Pacific Ocean and, in so doing, safeguarding the marine ecosystems in which the resources occur.

The SPRFMO Convention applies to the high seas of the South Pacific, covering about a fourth of the Earth’s high seas áreas.


The aim of this event is to share and review current best practices related to habitat monitoring and research, to better inform ecosystem-based management approaches for marine resources.


The symposium is aimed at habitat monitoring scientists from all over the world, including organizations such as ICES, PICES, FAO and national marine research institutions and academic entities not limited to SPRFMO contracting parties. Additionally, marine science students; scientists from the public and private sectors, will be welcome. At least 200 attendees are expected since the event would be relevant for the international scientific community.
Plenary and Invited Speakers
At least 200 attendees are expected given the relevance of this event for the international scientific community.

Plenary Speakers:

Dr. Francois Gerlotto

Dr. Francois Gerlotto is a French marine biologist and Ph.D. in Ecology. He is a renowned international expert in marine biology and fisheries, as well as one of the leading proponents of underwater acoustics research worldwide, with a particular focus on developing countries. He worked at the French Agency for International Cooperation (ORSTOM), later known as the Institute of Research for Development (IRD). He has also collaborated with major marine laboratories such as IFREMER, MLA, IMR, IFOP, IMARPE, and Fundación La Salle, among others, through various cooperation schemes.

Consequently, he has spent a significant part of his life outside of France, participating in or leading marine and fisheries research projects in Europe, Africa, Central America, and South America. One of his notable achievements is the successful AVITIS Project, which aimed to adapt multibeam technology for marine biological research.

He has served as the President of the Working Group on Fisheries Acoustics, Science, and Technology, as well as the President of the Fishing Technology Committee of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). He has also represented France at various ICES and European Union bodies and has been a delegate of the European Union to international organizations such as the Regional Organization for the Management of Fisheries in the South Pacific (OROP). He has presented his research at numerous international scientific events, with his contributions being published in over a hundred volumes of scientific journals. Currently, he is the President of the Scientific Committee of the Humboldt Institute of Marine and Aquatic Research.

Dr. Héctor Peña

Héctor obtained his Marine Biologist degree at the University of Concepcion in 1990. Initiator and chief scientist of the Fisheries Services Program at the Institute of Fisheries Research (INPESCA, Chile) from 1993 to 2002. His program was responsible of gathering the catch and operational data from the Chilean pelagic fleet used to generate daily reports aiming improving the fleet operation. Master and Ph. D. degrees were obtained at the University of Bergen (Norway) in 2004 and 2009, respectively.

His studies were focus on fisheries acoustics, in particular the use of echo sounders and sonars onboard fishing vessels. As member of the acoustic group in the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in Bergen, from 2009 to 2022, he has been involved in the development of methods and software tools for using the fisheries sonars data for biomass estimation of schooling species. Single schools estimate during fishing operations and echo integration from systematic acoustic pelagic-trawl surveys have been a mayor focus in his work. As member of the ICES WGFAST group among other activities he has promoted the standardization of sonar data using netCDF data format, which now is becoming adopted also for echo sounders and other acoustic scientific equipment. Currently at the Pelagic Group at IMR, he is the coordinator of the International Ecosystem Summer Survey in the Nordic Seas, efforts partnership of 5 nations to assess the stocks of the main pelagic species in the North Atlantic.

Dr. Francisco Chavez

Francisco Chavez is a biological oceanographer who studies how climate variability and change impact ocean ecosystems on local to basin scales. He was born and raised in Peru, has a BS from Humboldt State and a PhD from Duke University. He is a founding member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) where he has pioneered time series research and the development of new instruments and systems to make this type of research sustainable. Chavez has close to 300 peer-reviewed publications with 15 in Nature and Science.

He is past member of the US National Science Foundation Geosciences Advisory Committee, a member of the Executive Committee for the Central and Northern California Coastal Ocean Observing System, the Science Advisory Team for the California Ocean Protection Council, Scientific steering committee for OceanSites, Advisory Committee for Instituto del Mar del Peru, Advisory Council for the Consorcio de Investigación del Golfo de México and Scientific steering committee for Global Ocean Oxygen NEtwork. Chavez is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences, honored for distinguished research on the impact of climate variability on oceanic ecosystems and global carbon cycling; and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, honored for advancing fundamental knowledge of the physical-biological coupling between Pacific Decadal Oscillations, productivity, and fisheries. He was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universidad Pedro Ruiz Gallo in Peru in recognition of his distinguished scientific career and for contributing to elevate academic and cultural levels of university communities in particular and society in general. Chavez is the 2014 recipient of the Ed Ricketts Memorial award.

Dr. Ricardo Oliveros

Dr. Ricardo Oliveros was awarded his PhD in Ecology and Evolution in 2014 by the University of Montpellier, France, for research on statistical and computational methods for the confrontation of ecosystem models with data, and an application to the Peruvian Upwelling ecosystem. Ricardo is an ecosystem modeler, with a particular focus on Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems, whose research aims to understand the effects of climate variability on marine ecosystems, and to apply this understanding in support of fisheries management decisions. He has worked for over fifteen years as researcher in fish stock assessment and ecological modeling, at the Instituto del Mar del Perú (IMARPE) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), dealing with large and small pelagics fisheries, especially with the Peruvian anchovy fishery. He also participated for several years as delegate to the Scientific Committee of SPRFMO, being involved in the stock assessment of Jack Mackerel in the South Pacific. He is also member of the Fisheries and Marine Ecosystem Model Intercomparison Project (Fish-MIP), leading the efforts for the downscaling of regional climate change scenarios for ecological applications. Ricardo advocates for the use of spatially-explicit ecosystem models as tactical tools for fisheries management, particularly in the context of adaptation to climate change and management strategy evaluation. He is currently based in Montpellier, France, working as researcher in marine ecosystems modeling at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) in the Marine Biodiversity Exploitation and Conservation (MARBEC) research unit.

Dr. Renato Salvatteci

Dr. Renato Salvatteci has worked for more than 15 years on reconstructing past changes in fish population variability at multiple time scales using an interdisciplinary approach, including paleoceanography, biogeochemistry and fish ecology. He is particularly interested in the local and remote factors driving changes in productivity and sub-surface deoxygenation in Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems during the last 140 000 years, and the respective response of small pelagic fishes to past changes in oceanic and climatic conditions at multi-decadal to millennial time scales.
His core issue is to provide scientific evidence to develop an adaptive local fishery management under globally warmer ocean conditions. Renato has studied fisheries engineering in Lima, Peru, and marine ecology in Mexico. He earned his PhD in Environmental Sciences at the Université Paris VI, France, and was then affiliated as an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellow to the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University, Germany.
After several years as a post-doctoral researcher in the SFB 754 project “Climate – Biogeochemistry Interactions in the Tropical Ocean”, Renato is now a work package leader in the Humboldt Tipping Points project at the Center for Ocean and Society at Kiel University.

Scientific Program:

Topic sessions


Data considered in hábitat research:

Environmental variables and oceanographic mechanisms or processes associated with spatio-temporal distribution of fish.

Plenary speaker:

Invited speaker:

The habitats of South Pacific ocean are diverse, ranging from highly productive upwelling systems to oligotrophic high seas, and supports important ecosystems and fisheries. Habitat monitoring in these systems is a major challenge given the complexity of the processes and drivers that modulate productivity changes at different scales. A wide variety of observation platforms such as multi-instrumentation ship-board surveys, satellite remote sensing, Argo-floats, fishing boats, moorings, gliders are used for monitoring and data acquisition to understand both the temporal and spatial variability of processes associated with the spatial distribution of fish. This session aims to share different examples of successful implementation of South Pacific observation in order to assess changes in the distribution and productivity of fish populations that support fisheries using a variety of data acquisition platforms and integrated sensors.


This session welcomes presentations on all aspects of data acquisition and monitoring in South Pacific that:

1. Use information from multi-disciplinary approaches to better understand the changes in spatio-temporal distribution of fish species as response to habitat variability.

2. Highlight divergent perspectives and propose hypotheses that might reconcile differing views related to understanding the drivers of the spatial distribution of fish.

3. Discuss what data are needed to better project habitat changes and the spatial distribution of fish throughout their life cycle in response to future anthropogenic climate change.


Modeling and relevant indices and indicators to improve habitat monitoring of pelagic and deep sea species.

Plenary speaker:

Invited speaker:

The environment is considered an important factor controlling distribution and habitat of pelagic and deep sea species. An approach to monitoring the essential habitat is through the identification of indicators that allow parameterizing the variables that control the distribution and determine the potential habitat of marine resources. Likewise, habitat monitoring can be associated with different modeling approaches, such as, modeling habitat suitability, bio-physical modeling, atmospheric and hydrodynamic modeling, and ecological & ecotrophic modeling.


This session will be carried out through oral/poster presentations on modeling and relevant indices and indicators to improve habitat monitoring of pelagic and deep-sea species. We call for some contributions on several topics listed below:

1. Habitat suitability modeling to improved spatial management of fisheries.

2. Assess the ecosystem effects of fishing to support an ecosystem approach to fisheries using environmental indices and indicators

3. Studies of dispersal patterns and population dynamics using bio-physical modeling.

4. Development of validated hydrodynamic and atmospheric modeling to simulate the ocean processes.


Technologies and methods available for habitat monitoring.

Plenary speaker:

Invited speaker:

The technologies and methods (T&M) developed for habitat monitoring emerge as crucial starting points to our understanding of oceanographic and ecosystem processes involved in fisheries studies. Acoustic methods (passive and active) are widely used in fisheries research, often providing relevant information that could not be obtained otherwise, the potential applications of new, improved, or refined acoustic methods to outstanding problems in fisheries and fisheries habitat research are expected. Some examples of T&M for the study of habitat of marine species are: ecogenomic sensors, e-monitoring on fishing vessels, autonomous platforms and vehicles, acoustic echosounders on fish aggregating devices (FADs) or gliders, sound monitoring, midwater acoustic methods, close- kin mark recapture, environmental DNA, artificial intelligence and machine learning, molecular profiling technologies, remote sampling solutions, computer vision techniques, among others. Many of these T&Ms are already in use or are under development.


The session will consider oral/poster presentations on technologies and methods available for habitat monitoring. Some of these topics are listed below:

1. Studies aimed at new instrumentation and methods for data collection.

2. Acoustic technologies and methods for gathering information from fisheries dynamics.

3. Novel approaches for the study of the habitat by using hydroacoustic methods and vessels of opportunity.

4. Different technological solutions for habitat monitoring.


Considering essential habitat in the assessment of resources: Maintenance and enhancement of productive capacity of habitats to increase fishery productivity.

Plenary speaker:

Invited speaker:

At present, there is important evidence about the relationship between habitat and fisheries production. Most marine habitats are highly sensitive to fishing activities, and such habitats are increasingly linked to parts of the life cycle of commercial species. Despite recognizing that fishing can have an important effect on the habitat of the resources, there are still no mechanisms that allow quantitatively incorporating the effect of exploitation on potential habitat loss in the stock assessment. On the other hand, the essential habitat (waters and substrates necessary for spawning, reproduction, feeding and growth until maturity of exploited species), presents variability at different temporal and spatial scales due to the inherent environmental variability. There is a large amount of evidence on reproductive success that strengthens the relationship between egg/larval mortality and factors associated with the physical environment. In this context, the availability of essential habitats that allow protection against predators, sufficient food conditions or protection against transport processes that generate advection and drift of specimens is important to maintain the productivity of the species. The stock assessment is the main fisheries management tool, but it does not take into account habitat aspects, so this issue has hardly been taken into account in fisheries management decisions. Currently management plans do not include the protection of the habitat that allows improving and conserving sufficient conditions for the sustainable development of resources.


This session will promote presentations (oral/posters) of studies that allow emphasizing the importance of essential habitat of species on fishery production and its incorporation in the evaluation of stock and management.

1. Studies that promote strategies to reduce the impact of fishing on the quality of the habitat.

2. Innovative studies that allow the development of quantitative analysis of the dynamics of essential habitat changes in stock assessment.

3. Spatially explicit research on the carrying capacity, resilience and improvement of essential habitats in relation to environmental changes, particularly under climate change scenarios.


Climate change scenarios in the South Pacific.

Plenary speaker:

Invited speaker:

The increasingly dominant signal of climate change in all natural ecosystems, including heat spikes and waves, changes in physical annual cycles and the increased occurrence of extreme events, has added a new great challenge to fisheries management. The fisheries are affected by natural fluctuations in resource abundance as a result of complex physical, biological and ecological interactions. Because our monitoring, understanding, and ability to respond to these fluctuations are incomplete, the uncertainties associated with climate variability are amplified to fisheries management and operations. In order to obtain more accurate projections of future climate change scenarios and their effect on species habitat and fisheries, it is necessary to downscale the global models and improve the various regional models for the South Pacific. In order to co-design adaptation measures to climate change, it is necessary to carry out risk assessments based on hazard, exposure, sensitivity and vulnerability analyses, both of fisheries and aquaculture, and of socio-ecological systems at different scales (e.g. small-scale coastal fisheries, high seas industrial fisheries).


This session welcomes presentations on all aspects of climate change assessment in South Pacific that:

1. Analyze the sensitivity of ecosystems and their species to climate change in the South Pacific.

2. Assess the potential impacts of climate change on the essential habitat, the life cycles and the spatial distribution of species with ecological and fishing importance in the South Pacific.

3. Perform downscaling of global models for climate change scenarios in the different ecosystems of the South Pacific.

4. Assess vulnerability and climate risk as well as outline adaptation strategies to the climate change scenarios projected for the South Pacific.

Symposium Structure

Three day meeting

The Symposium Will provide a broad understanding of habitat monitoring and species distribution modelling of the South Pacific.
Papers presented at the HMS will be discussed after a short presentation by scientists in a Conference room.
Plenary sessions presented by keynote speakers are meant to set the tone for a given Symposium day.
Poster sessions arranged by main topic sessions will be also considered.
Participant presentations will be grouped in different sessions based on contents and relevance, with the aim to ensure visibility according to the topic.

 All sessions will have simultaneous English-Spanish/Spanish-English translation

The Organizing Committee of the Symposium State of Art of Habitat Monitoring has considered arranging shuttle buses for the symposium participants. At 8:30 AM sharp, one will be stationed at the Diego de Almagro Hotel (Chacabuco 156, Concepción), and at the same time, the other will be positioned at the Hotel Alborada (Barros Arana 557, Concepcion). These buses will transfer participants requiring transportation to the Mitrinco Event Center.


1-4 extra days for workshops​

There is also considered during one to four days for specific workshops on technologies and modelling tools for habitat monitoring.

Free Echoview workshop

  • Trainer: Dr Toby Jarvis, Echoview Software
  • November 09, 2023

The workshop will focus on practical approaches for processing echosounder data, structured around three key themes:

  1. Detection of the oxygen-minimum zone (OMZ) in single-beam echosounder data
  2. Omnidirectional multibeam-echosounder (omnisonar) data processing
  3. SeapiX multibeam-echosounder data processing

Course on Interpretation of acoustic data from fisheries sonar (4 days)

  • Dr. Hector Peña
  • November 10-13, 2023 (4 days)


  • Session 1 – Basic theory and operation of fisheries sonar
  • Session 2 – Sonar calibration, school dimensions, target strength
  • Session 3 – Data collection during surveying
  • Session 4 – Data scrutiny and school segmentation
  • Session 5 – Test school segmentation and common data problems
  • Session 6 – Data outputs
  • Session 7 – Biomass estimates from case studies for schooling fish
  • Session 8 – Biomass estimates and behavior case studies for schooling fish

The course on the use of fishery sonars for research consists of 4 days of theoretical classes and hands-on work with the LSSS program for data processing.
The maximum number of participants is limited to 10 people to ensure efficient work with the LSSS software.
The course is designed for researchers with knowledge of acoustics and computer program management.
The course materials are in English and can be taught in Spanish if requested.
Students are required to have a personal computer, preferably with 32 GB of RAM. The license for LSSS will be provided by MAREC and can be accessed via the IP address of the location where the course is conducted.

Statistical downscaling and bias correction of future scenarios for habitat modeling applications.

  • Dr. R. Oliveros
  • November 9, 2023 (1 day)


  • Session 1. Manipulation of gridded time series.
  • Session 2. Bias correction.
  • Session 3. Statistical downscaling.
  • Session 4. Application to the projection of future habitats.

Earth System Models (ESM) are the main tool to forecast the impacts of climate change, but a systematic spatio-temporal bias in ESMs makes bias-correction necessary for impact applications where the absolute scale of the forcing is relevant, like when predicting species distributions or physiological responses. This tutorial presents an introduction to statistical downscaling and bias correction techniques using the R programming language. The tutorial is organized in four hand-on sessions of 1.5 hours each. Participants are expected to have prior experience with R programming and be familiar with the fundamentals of statistical modeling. Participants are required to have a personal computer with R and RStudio installed.

Maximum number of participants: 15


First call for papers.
Abstract submission opens.
Registration opens.
Financial support application opens.
Second call for papers.

New abstract submission deadline.

SPRFMO Steering

Aquiles Sepúlveda
Mariano Gutiérrez
Eunjung Kim
Fabrice Stephenson
New Zeland

Daniel Grados


Symposium State of the Art of Habitat Monitoring