US fishery to implement electronic monitoring
2016-06-17 16:52:47   copyfrom:http://www.worldfishing.net/    hits:

This year, for the first time, up to 20 participating fishermen from across New England will use digital cameras rather than human monitors to document discards of groundfish, such as cod, haddock and flounder, on commercial fishing trips
01 Jun 2016
New England fishermen will be using cameras to record discards. Photo: Lauren Owens

New England fishermen will be using cameras to record discards. Photo: Lauren Owens

This year, for the first time, up to 20 participating fishermen from across New England will use digital cameras rather than human monitors to document discards of groundfish, such as cod, haddock and flounder, on commercial fishing trips.

This collaborative project currently includes groundfishermen from the Maine Coast Community Sector, Cape Cod’s Fixed Gear Sector and others, with technical support from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and project oversight by The Nature Conservancy.

With quotas for some groundfish species, particularly cod, at historic lows, the goal is to use innovative technology to provide accurate catch and discard information in a cost-effective manner.

Mike Russo, captain of the fishing vessel Gulf Venture, of Provincetown, Mass., said: “Cameras on boats will make a big difference for two reasons. One, you won’t have an inexperienced person onboard, which is a liability and a safety risk, and two, pictures don’t lie.

“Video footage will validate fishermen’s observations, which up until now have been categorised as anecdotal. Now, the proof will be there,” he added.

Electronic video monitoring systems use three to four cameras to capture all the fish handling activity on deck, with some cameras focused on dedicated points so that fish can be identified and measured before being discarded.

Upon completion of the trip, fishermen send the hard drives to third-party reviewers who watch the footage and quantify the amount of discarded fish, allowing regulators to use the information for catch accounting.

“Our goal is to develop electronic monitoring into an accepted, accurate, and cost-effective alternative for those fishermen who choose to use it,” said Chris McGuire, marine program director, The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts and the project’s manager.

“The Conservancy’s project team has been working closely with fishermen, regulators and scientists to co-develop the details of this electronic monitoring program, and we’re really pleased to have reached this point,” he added.

Costs for equipment purchases and video review during the 2016 fishing season are being offset by federal funds through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and other sources.

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