Ambassador uses TIMEZERO to collect and view research on the seafloor in Patagonia

We recently caught up with Scientist and TIMEZERO Ambassador who resides on the other side of the world in Patagonia to find out how he is getting on. He recently embarked on a mission to map the seafloor in Patagonia. More than just mapping it, he wants to get qualitative information on each area. Where are the ecosystems thriving and what effect trawler fishing is having on these areas. Funded by the local government and armed with TIMEZERO and underwater cameras, he is collecting a huge amount of information to provide an overall picture on the seafloor.

Can you introduce yourself?


My name is Gastón Trobbiani, I’m a marine biologist and currently studying a doctorate in the Center of Studies of Marine Systems (CESIMAR-CENPAT) with a grant from CONICET (National Technical and Scientific Investigations Advice) in the city of Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina. My line of work is focused on the development of exploration tools and monitoring with remotely controlled cameras and using these tools to analyze and evaluate the impact that trawling has on the seafloor and their associated ecosystems.

I have been passionate about the sea for a long time and I have been a diver going back to 1998. At first it was just a hobby and then as the years passed it became a job. I have always tried to link my passion for the sea with my career and as luck has it, I’m working in a field that I have always loved.

Can you describe the project in more detail?

The team working on the acoustics

The Project of doctorate is titled “Trawler fishing in the Costa Norte del Golfo San Jorge: Distribution, disturbance frequency and effects on associated seafloor communities”. The project has a general goal of investigating the intensity and frequency of disturbances caused by trawler fishing in the Gulf of San Jorge, Patagonia, Argentina (Lat -45.319340; Long -66.041012) and evaluate their impact on the associated seafloor communities.

Given that the effects of trawlers are dependent on the type of habitat on which they are fishing in, in order to carry out this large-scale project, it was necessary to search out information from a variety of distinct channels to get the description and bathymetry of the habitats and communities that live in them and are thus directly dependent upon them. Using this information combined with results from similar ecosystems and seafloors from other part of the world, we can infer the vulnerability level of each location researched.

In order to advance in the mapping of habitats, low cost video submarine techniques have been put in place to map and classify the seafloor and integrate the local empirical knowledge (local knowledge by those who regularly fish in these areas). The majority of those interviewed up until this moment use and have years of back log of their routes in what is now TIMEZERO software. This data consists amongst other information, of marks and waypoints, years of them due to them fishing in these zones. This data is of the utmost importance to be able to generate a chart of high resolution, especially in areas that are difficult to access and gain a coverture, the likes of which have never been carried out locally. From this data, create polygon zones to identify which zones have been trawled and which haven’t. By interviewing each Capitan, we will try to detail and link together the different types of seafloor (mud, sand, stone, etc.).

The polygons are showing the various fishing areas. The red areas show the fishing zones while the blue indicate areas that have a hard ground.

Finally, with these polygon zones and high resolution maps, develop bathymetry of the best possible resolution. These maps and the description of the associated benthic community will serve to provide the basic information necessary for future investigations on habitat vulnerability. This material is therefore indispensable for any plan to ensure the sustainability of such habitats. One of these zones has recently been decreed a marine reserve (Interjurisdiction Park Marino Costero Patagonia Austral)

commercial fishing routes shown within TIMEZERO

The interviews are very interesting as they provide an overview based on the years of experience that these fishermen have but with the use of new tools like TIMEZERO that allow them to improve and make their bathymetry knowledge go further, we can start to mobilize the protection of their own routes.

Why did you choose TIMEZERO and how was the installation process?

TIMEZERO fuses the possibility to both visualize and carry out multiple tasks with the aforementioned data. It is a new platform that is versatile and easy to use, that allows me to load years of commercial fishing data and work in layers, eliminate and aggregate marks as well as a host of other related benefits to visualize this information. On top of this, it is a tool that is visually speaking very helpful to see all the information collected from the interview combined and to unify the criteria, quickly find elements and to cunningly organize information that would otherwise be unachievable for a student like myself.

The installation process was rapid and without any inconveniences. I followed the indicated steps to install both the program and charts without any problems to note.

Have you had a chance to use other similar navigation software to TIMEZERO? How do they compare?

At this very moment, I have only had two days using TIMEZERO. Before that I used Qgis, Mapsourse, OpenCPN, all of which had the inconvenience of not being able to display the information collected from the fishermen, however, with TIMEZERO I can see all this information, and furthermore, TIMEZERO has a fluidity that no other software could achieve. To load this considerable quantity of data without seeing a drop in performance is fundamental to be able to do my job in a timely manner.

Why is TIMEZERO important for your work?

TIMEZERO is important for my work because a lot of the information that has been collected and continues to be collected in the semi-structured interviews with these commercial fishermen is already in TIMEZERO format, as they use it in on board their fishing vessels. With TIMEZERO I can count on this data and this provides more value than I would otherwise have without it.

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