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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Pacific Fishery Management Council: Electronic monitoring program for fisheries

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has recommended regulations governing the use of electronic equipment to monitor at-sea discards of target, non-target and prohibited fish for certain West Coast groundfish fisheries. If approved by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), this will mark the culmination of a four-year process to develop and implement regulations for electronic monitoring system use in West Coast groundfish fisheries. Council Member Dorothy Lowman said, “For many fishing operations, electronic monitoring will provide a more cost-effective way to meet 100 percent monitoring requirements. This will allow fishermen the flexibility to choose the monitoring method that makes the most sense for them while maintaining full accountability.” Under the council’s catch share program, every vessel must carry a human observer to help monitor catch that is allocated to each vessel owner, including discards that happen at sea. Each owner has a share of the total catch allocation and the program requires that each vessel have “quota pounds” to cover its catch of nearly all groundfish species. The catch share program relies on at-sea monitoring to ensure that discards are accurately identified with an estimated weight so that vessel quotas are properly tracked. However, fishermen must pay as much as $500 per day for an observer, and must schedule deployment of an observer when a vessel is ready to fish. The electronic monitoring program is expected to increase flexibility while reducing operating costs for fishermen. An electronic monitoring system collects video images of fishing activity with cameras, uses gear sensors to trigger recording and monitor use, and includes a Global Positioning System to collect location data. It then stores this information on a computer hard drive for review at a later date at a mainland facility, where a person reviews the video to monitor the fishing activity. Under the West Coast electronic monitoring program, the video images will be used to verify the species and amount of discarded fish that is recorded in a fisherman’s logbook.

Source: Lakeconews