Get Email Updates

Efforts Underway to Explore the Use of Electronic Monitoring in Northeast Fisheries

With growing needs for timely and accurate data and information on commercial fisheries’ catch and discards, several groups in the region are joining forces to explore how technology can be used better to help collect these data.  

Many see electronic monitoring as a major part of the solution. Electronic monitoring uses onboard computers and video cameras to record catch and discards of fish species and to monitor compliance with regulations at sea.  It has been used successfully to support catch accounting in fisheries outside of the United States and in a more limited capacity to monitor compliance in U.S. fisheries in the North Pacific. 

“We see a lot of potential in the broader application of electronic monitoring,” said John Bullard, regional administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NOAA Fisheries. “But in order to make widespread use of electronic monitoring a reality, we to need work together to set goals, troubleshoot potential challenges, and identify workable solutions for its use in our regional fisheries.” 

Pilot testing has been ongoing in the New England groundfish fishery for several years, but electronic monitoring has yet to be approved for broad use in day-to-day fishing operations. However, interest remains high among some stakeholders to see electronic monitoring adopted in not only the groundfish fishery, but also other regional fisheries including Atlantic herring and Atlantic sea scallops.

Government agencies, fishery management councils, conservation organizations, and the fishing industry came together for a national workshop in January in Seattle, WA, to discuss taking electronic monitoring from pilot studies to operational programs in U.S. fisheries. The workshop identified ingredients for success and key considerations for implementing electronic monitoring in various regions across the country.

In May, as a follow up to that meeting, The Nature Conservancy and NOAA Fisheries will host a New England electronic monitoring workshop. We will build on the momentum from the national workshop to identify clear goals for utilizing electronic monitoring to improve data collection and monitoring.

“We are excited to help bring together stakeholders to discuss the key implementation challenges and identify tangible solutions for advancing the use of electronic monitoring in New England fisheries” said Geoffrey Smith, Marine Program Director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine.  

George Lapointe, NOAA Fisheries advisor on electronic technologies added, “Key ingredients to successful implementation include getting all stakeholders involved from the start, setting concrete objectives, having clear roles and responsibilities, and understanding what electronic monitoring can and can’t do in fisheries monitoring. This workshop will provide this critical step for New England fishermen and fisheries.”

The New England Regional Workshop will be held on May 7-8 in Portsmouth, NH.  For more information click here.