The transition to sector management has placed increased monitoring and reporting requirements on individual vessels. At-sea monitoring uses onboard human observers to verify a vessel's catch, area fished, and discard rate. While the costs for this traditional approach have been fully funded since the creation of sectors in New England, the long-term plan is to transition these costs to the fishermen themselves. At an expected rate of up to $800 a day, these fees would place a significant burden on the already strained industry.
Electronic monitoring is an innovative and cost-effective alternative to at-sea monitoring. It replaces the on-board human observer with a suite of video cameras, computers, gear sensors, and GPS to record information about a vessel’s fishing activity. The video footage is reviewed onshore and can be used to collect data comparable to that collected by at-sea monitors. For example, managers can calculate catch and discard rates using species identification and fish length data captured by the video.