A team of staff and fishermen from GMRI, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, The Nature Conservancy, and Ecotrust Canada recently released findings from the third and final year of a pilot project exploring the use of electronic monitoring as a cost-effective alternative to at-sea monitors in the groundfish fishery.
In the third year of the project, fishermen collected video of discarded fish from over 180 hauls using both trawl and gillnet gear. The report shows that improvements to technology and protocols rendered nearly 100% of video data usable for the year. The team refined fish handling protocols to enable more efficient video review, and improved training for participating fishermen. Creating a rapid feedback loop between the video reviewer and fishermen further enhanced the data quality.
Fishermen also recorded their discard information using electronic logbooks. The alignment between recorded discards and discards seen in the video improved steadily over time, as both fishermen and reviewers learned the system.
With the pilot project completed, the project partners are now halfway through the first year of electronic monitoring implementation under an Exempted Fishing Permit, which spans vessels in three sectors. The long-term goal is to have electronic monitoring approved as a monitoring alternative fleet-wide.