Cost-Effective and Efficient Fish Census System

Abstract/Technology Overview

FishDrop is a system that allows for a more efficient conduct of fish census using a camera and a fish video software, which eliminates the need for a fish expert with scuba equipment. FishDrop can do species count and biomass estimation of fish, as long as they are in the database. The data gathered through the census can then be used in the assessment of marine environment health, and further, in the formulation of strategies to improve the health of reef communities.

This technology is particularly useful in places where there is great marine biodiversity, like some Southeast Asian countries, but having a limited number of fish experts.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

Species count and biomass estimation of fish are used in the assessment of tropical marine environment health. Conducted within reef areas, documentation over time helps determine the success of reef protection and rehabilitation initiatives. The monitoring results are crucial inputs to decision-making in terms of strategies to improve reef resilience and increase productivity of reef communities. This census is done by a fish expert swimming along a transect with the aid of scuba equipment. Attempts at incorporating videos in fish census aimed to reduce dive hours and to have permanent transect records. However, subsequent manual analysis of the collected video data is tedious and time consuming.

This technology is a hardware-software tandem that allows for rapid reef fish assessment. It automates the process of performing fish census which otherwise requires high level of domain knowledge and expertise in the Marine Sciences. This is particularly valuable in areas where there is great marine biodiversity such as the Philippines, where there are few fish experts, and around 1,600 marine protected areas.

With this system, users with minimal knowledge of fish can obtain high quality population and species distribution measurements without being reliant on the expertise of divers. In particular, it can calculate fish size and population density, identify fish species, and calculate biomass.

Potential Applications

Fish size and population density information may be used in aquaculture to provide guidance on the best time to fish and declare open and close season for reef fisheries. Commercial industries operating near bodies of water can also use census information to quantify the impact of their operations on the marine environment. Species abundance information may also be used in tourism to identify good touristic spots for unique species sighting.

Contact Person

Ma. Christina Mate


University of the Philippines

Technology Category
  • Monitoring System & Sensor
  • Video/Image Analysis
  • Video/Image Processing
  • Agriculture & Farming
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 5