Posted by Mike Crispino
27 July 2012
One of the best way to identify and end illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is to make sure that all fishing trips are monitored by independent, third party observers, or through electronic means when a human observer is not a practical or safe option. Electronic monitoring allows regulators, scientists, and environmental activists to access information about what’s been caught, how it’s caught and what happens to the catch once it’s onboard the vessel. And using electronic observers means that observer coverage is always possible – and that regular third party observation can become a best practice for the industry as a whole.
The Playa de Bakio
In November of 2011, the purse seine vessel Playa de Bakio, part of the fleet owned by Spanish based company PEVASA, became the first tropical tuna vessel in the world to test the latest in electronic monitoring technology.
Experts from Archipelago Marine Research installed a video based electronic monitoring system on the vessel, which used an array of sensors to monitor key fishing gear, and triggered the video cameras when it detected fishing activity. The system was installed to cover as much of the fishing activity as possible, and included a satellite modem, hydraulic sensor, and a GPS receiver It also includes four cameras above deck, providing two views from the port side of the vessel and two views of the deck activity, and three cameras below deck to capture views of the conveyor belt and discard pile. The electronic monitoring system used on the Playa de Bakio has been used for seven years to monitor fisheries on British Columbia’s groundfish fleet.
Throughout the two month cruise off Africa, an onboard control center managed the system and logged the data, along with vessel location, speed, and heading information provided by the system’s GPS receiver. Throughout the trip, the system delivered hourly updates via satellite, reporting vessel position, fishing activity, and other relevant information. And once the vessel returned to port, any portion of the logged data was available for review in order to help evaluate fishing activity.
Borja Soroa, Managing Director of PEVASA, stated “The success of this monitoring technology means that even in regions where safety is a chief concern, like it is in the Indian Ocean, observer coverage is not optional. This will become a standard for doing business and we’re committed to doing our part to help make it work.”
The Torre Giulia
In March of 2012, the Archipelago Marine Research team installed similar equipment onboard the Torre Giulia, to monitor the stern deck area where fish were brought aboard, as well as below deck where the fish were moved to the storage wells. During that voyage, which was a joint scientific effort between ISSF and the European MADE (Mitigating Adverse Ecological Impacts of Open Ocean Fisheries) Project, the images from the vessel were monitored remotely by Archipelago staff in Canada. A total of 18 sets were made during the cruise, and the crew caught 181 tons of tuna, 13.5 tons of small tuna that were rejected, and 7.5 tons of bycatch. All the sets were successfully captured by the electronic monitoring system on board, and after a review this summer, any changes that are needed to improve the current system will be made.
“There isn’t an equivalent technology in use anywhere in the world,” stated Shawn Stebbins, Archipelago president and CEO. “There are some that are similar but not applied in the same way that we’ve applied.”
This new technology allows fisheries, regulatory bodies, retailers, and environmental advocates to fill a void of transparency in the tuna supply chain and move us closer to a sustainable future for these wild, fast moving fish. ISSF continues to sponsor trials with the goal of developing a system that works for tuna vessels.