Passive acoustic monitoring of gadoid fish

The following opportunity is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Full project title

  • Passive acoustic monitoring and automated detection of gadoid fish species in marine renewable development areas

Interaction with ecosystem services and other users of the sea are key aspects of environmental impact assessments for marine renewable development. Although “fisheries sensitivity” maps exist, they are coarse resolution and detailed assessment of key activities e.g. spawning at potential development sites can be difficult.
Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) for underwater sound produced by some commercial species during spawning (e.g. gadoids) offers the potential for continuous observations over a period of interest. This approach has been shown to provide detailed information on the extent of fish spawning aggregations. Further, PAM can be applied in the post-construction period, whereas it is normally not possible to undertake trawl surveys within the boundaries of a renewable development.

This project will review sound production by commercial fish species, with a particular focus on gadoids. The project will assess the suitability of passive acoustics for monitoring spawning aggregations and develop species-specific classifiers, based on test data collected at known gadoid spawning grounds. Resulting classifiers will then be applied to new data. This technique would revolutionise the current approach to this aspect of EIAs, and might also benefit the development of species-specific classifiers for other species, such as minke whales.

Other project collaborators include Marine Scotland Science.

The project is expected to start 1 October 2018


Applicants must possess a minimum of an Honours degree at 2:1 and/or a Master’s Degree (or International equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding information

The studentship covers fees, plus a stipend at the RCUK level, for a total of 39 months (including writing-up).

Funding is available for students worldwide, however non UK/EU students will be liable for the difference between home/EU and international fees.  Click to view our current fees.

Students must be domiciled in the Highlands and Islands region during the course of their study to be eligible for funding. Students are expected to be based full-time at: The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI.

Supervisory team

Dr. Denise Risch; SAMS UHI (Lead Academic)

Maarten van Walstijn; Queens University QUB (Co-supervision)

Dr Clive Fox (SAMS UHI)

Prof. Ben Wilson (SAMS UHI)

Deadline for applications for this project is 5pm 22nd June 2018 (UK time).

Informal project specific enquiries can be made to: Dr Denise Risch,

This studentship is delivered through The Bryden Centre - a partnership of academic institutions and other stakeholders, supported by industry partners, delivering an exciting collaborative programme of advanced marine renewable energy and bio-energy research.