Origins of METAS

The idea and methology behind METAS was born in the mid 1990s at the Institute of Marine Research and has since evolved from studying of fish and its behaviour to detection of oil and gas leakage as well as stationary real time environmental monitoring. From years of acoustic surveying with vessel acoustics we discovered that the collection of data along transects created two types of uncertainties: Fish were disturbed by the survey vessel and stock estimates affected accordingly. Mixing of spatial and temporal variability hid properties of ecosystem dynamics that were essential to understanding marine ecosystems.

In order to study the fish and avoid vessel and trawl disturbance we designed a floating acoustic system that was widely used over the years (Godø and Totland, 1996; Handegard N.O, 2003). The experience gained, followed by further development of the system, motivated a project to implement a cabled acoustic observatory in the Ofoten Fjord to study migration, abundance and behaviour of Norwegian Spring spawning herring (Godø et al., 2005). The result of this project was to illuminate the potential of new information which could be gained from stationary acoustics.

Since then the system has been used for various purposes. Our next step was to develop a long-term monitoring system at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. In recent years technological developments increased the possibilities of building a similar system with more sensors integrated. The petroleum industry showed interest in our mission to monitor marine life and the effects of sedimentation from drilling mud. This interest inspired us to commercialize our ideas and investigations thus providing a suite of products, lately also including AALD (automatic acoustic leak detection) for the offshore oil and gas industry. The main strength of METAS is our extensive experience and demonstrated ability to transform ideas and hypotheses into practical technological solutions.

Metas Founders


Olav Birkeland began his career in the Norwegian Navy where he pursued a technical education in electronics, specializing in radar technology, followed by business management some years later. He began his professional job experience as a radar technician in the Navy. After 8 years, he became a service engineer, later graduating to department manager within marine electronics for a Japanese company in Bergen. He continued to develop his professional experience as logistics manager for seven years and a managing director for eleven years in a Simrad/Kongsberg Group company with responsibility for distribution, sales and service of a wide range of acoustic and navigational electronics for the yachting, fishery and commercial market.


Terje Torkelsen began his career in the Norwegian Navy, where he specialized in radar technology. He became a service engineer in fishery acoustics and navigational instruments, and worked for 10 years as sales manager for fishery acoustics in a Simrad/Kongsberg Group company. For the last 5 years he has been working in the Observation Methodology Group at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, with responsibility for development, design and production of observation platforms, and integration of scientific equipment.


Olav Rune Godø has a PhD in scientific survey methodology for fish stock assessment. He has been working with survey methodology and fish behavior, including development of instrumentation for more than 20 years. He has been a major driving force in the development of new technology based on ecological insight and experience from vessel based acoustics. He was in charge of the project developing the original buoys and stationary solutions now Metas products.