Electronic fish monitoring

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has voted to allow three West Coast commercial fishing fleets to employ camera-based electronic monitoring (EM) systems.

As of 2017, the fixed-gear, shore-based whiting trawl, and mothership catcher vessel fleets will no longer be required to carry human observers on fishing trips, helping to simplify logistics, reduce costs and increase profits for fishermen.

Heather Mann, executive director of the Midwater Trawler’s Cooperative, an Oregon-based organisation representing 18 whiting vessels, said: “What this decision does is transfer responsibility for catch accounting from the federal government to vessel operators, where it should be.”

She said that skippers will use their logbook to track their catch and electronic monitoring will be there as verification.

“This decision is a long-overdue acknowledgement that West Coast groundfish fishermen are responsible stewards of their fishery,” she added.

Some 26 vessels have been piloting the EM system since 2015 under exempted fishing permits (EFP). The total number of vessels eligible to carry cameras based on this decision could be as many as 45.

The new programme could set the model for implementation in other US fisheries.

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