Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 18, Issue 3–5, pp 323–334 | Cite as

A remote sensing approach to estimating harvestable kelp biomass



Regulations of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game require that all fisheries in the state have a harvest management plan. In southeast Alaska two species of floating kelps, Nereocystis luetkeana and Alaria fistulosa, have been commercially harvested since 1992 for use as agrochemicals by the Alaska Kelp Company. However, there is currently no harvest management plan for this fishery. The lack of a formalized management plan is one factor that has kept the kelp industry from expanding in the state. We have employed an aerial digital multispectral imaging system (DMSC) calibrated with ground truthing for performing such an assessment. The system can be flown at varying altitudes to achieve spatial resolutions ranging from 0.5 to 2 m. Rapid ground truthing techniques were developed using morphometric measurements to predict biomass. Analysis of the DMSC imagery showed that good correlations could be developed between the multispectral imagery and kelp biomass estimates collected at the ground-truth sites. Repeatable estimates of kelp bed area derived from the multispectral imagery could be made at varying tidal levels. However, broad scale maps of kelp biomass suitable for estimating harvest rates could not be made at different tide levels. Multispectral imagery suitable for this purpose must be collected at a standard tidal level.

Key words

kelp mapping remote sensing biomass kelp management kelp canopy Nereocystis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Augenstein EW, Stow DA, Hope AS (1991) Evaluation of SPOT HRV-XS data for kelp resource inventories. Photogramm. Eng. Res. S. 57: 501–509.Google Scholar
  2. Belsher T, Mouchot, MC (1992) (Use of satellite imagery in management of giant kelp resources, Morbihan Gulf, Kerguelen Archipelago). Evaluation par teledetection satellitaire des stocks de Macrocystis pyrifera dans le Golfe du Morbihan (Archipel de Kerguelen). Oceanol. Acta 15: 297–307.Google Scholar
  3. Berry H, Sewell A, Van Wagonen B (2001) Temporal trends in the areal extent of canopy-forming kelp beds along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Washington's outer coast. Proceeding of the Puget Sound Research Conference 2001. Puget Sound Action Team. Olympia, Washington.
  4. Dean TA, Stekoll MS, Smith RO (1996) Kelps and oil: the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on subtidal algae. In: Rice SD, Spies RB, Wolfe DA, Wright BA (eds), Proceedings of the Exxon Valdez oil spill symposium. American Fisheries Society Symposium 18, pp. 412–423.Google Scholar
  5. Deysher LE (1993) Evaluation of remote-sensing techniques for monitoring giant kelp populations. Hydrobiologia 260/261: 307–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Foreman RE (1975) KIM-1. A method for inventory of floating kelps and its application to selected areas of Kelp Licence Area 12. Benthic Ecological Research Program Report 75-1. Report to Federal Fisheries and marine Service and Provincial Marine Resources Branch. 81 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Foster MS, Schiel DR (1985) Ecology of giant kelp forests in California: A community profile. National Coastal Ecosystems Team, Slidell, LA., NTIS: 172pp.Google Scholar
  8. Frye TC (1915) Part IV. The kelp beds of Southeast Alaska. In Cameron FK (ed.), Potash from Kelp, U.S.D.A., Washington, DC: 60–104.Google Scholar
  9. Jensen JR, Estes JE, Tinney L (1980) Remote sensing techniques for kelp surveys. Photogramm. Eng. Rem. S. 46: 743–755.Google Scholar
  10. North WJ, James DE, Jones LG (1993) History of kelp beds (Macrocystis) in Orange and San-Diego counties, California. Hydrobiologia 2609/261: 277–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Stekoll MS (1998) Seaweed resources of Alaska. In Ohno M, Critchley AT (eds), Seaweed Resources of the World, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo: pp. 258–265.Google Scholar
  12. Stekoll MS, Else PV (1992) The Feasibility of Macrocystis Mariculture in Southeast Alaska, The State of Alaska and the Japan Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Foundation, Tokyo, Japan, 171 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Tou JT, Gonzalez RC (1974) Pattern Recognition Principles. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Reading, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  14. van Tamelen PG, Woodby D (2001) Macrocystis biomass, quality, and harvesting effects in relation to the herring spawn-on-kelp fishery in Alaska. Alaska Fish. Res. Bull. 8: 118–131.Google Scholar
  15. Vasquez J, Alonso Vega JM (2004) Kelps: yield, harvesting and culture in northern Chile. Abstract Book Aquaculture 2004. World Aquaculture Society, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 609.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesUniversity of Alaska SEJuneauUSA
  2. 2.Ocean Imaging201 Lomas Santa Fe DriveSolana BeachUSA

Personalised recommendations