Evaluating the use of Autonomous Surface Vehicles for managing Marine Protected Areas and monitoring coastal environmental health

Florybeth La Valle, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Berkeley, CA, United States, Alasdair Cohen, Virginia Tech, Department of Population Health Sciences, United States, Caroline Marie Jaraula, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Metro Manila, Philippines, Gil S. Jacinto, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, Cesar Villanoy, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines and Thomas Azwell, University of California, Berkeley, United States
Over the last few decades, marine and coastal ecosystem health in much of the world has experienced significant and wide-ranging declines due largely to adverse impacts from overfishing, agriculture, tourism, development, and climate change. Recent advances in the use of autonomous, multi-parameter marine measurement offer a highly efficient means for dramatically improving environmental monitoring and management. As part of a collaboration between the University of the Philippines and University of California Berkeley, we are using high resolution spatiotemporal data gathered by a suite of sensors (CTD, ADCP, wave accelerometer, DO and pH sensors, weather station, 3-channnel fluorometers, hydrophone) on a Liquid Robotics wave glider, an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV), to monitor three sites across the Philippines: Tubbataha National Reef Park, Bolinao, and Boracay. Resulting ASV-derived data sets, complemented with biogeochemical and other remotely-sensed data are being used to (1) monitor for illegal fishing in a Marine Protected Area (MPA) to inform managers on the effectiveness of their current MPA boundaries, (2) quantify harmful algal blooms associated with fish feed in an area with high-density aquaculture, and (3) map and model the dispersal of sewage effluent to recreational beaches. Our initial work indicates that ASV technology can provide substantial economic, security-related, and scientific advantages for long-term marine environmental monitoring. Lessons learned from this multi-year initiative are expected to substantially advance and improve coastal and marine data collection in the Philippines, while providing a template for ASV application in several different settings for diverse research questions.