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Guidance on electronic monitoring

Posted by Mike Crispino
13 December 2012

One of the best ways to identify and end illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is to make sure that fishing trips are monitored by independent, third party observers. Beginning this January, we’ve asked processors, traders, importers and marketers to refrain from transactions with purse seine vessels that do not have an observer on board. In instances where it is not practical, or safe, to have an in-person observer, electronic monitoring can be an alternative to collect basic data, provided the right equipment is placed in the right places.

Effective monitoring provides fishery managers and scientists with access to information about what’s been caught, how it’s caught and what happens to the catch once it’s onboard the vessel. That level of detail is not something that can be collected by just slapping a camera or two on a vessel. As a new technical paper on electronic monitoring best practices warns, “It is important to avoid the circumstance where vessels will simply install cameras on board and call that an electronic observer program. Electronic monitoring is much more than that. Careful thought needs to be given to the data that are collected, and ensuring that they are analyzed by an independent authority, such as the RFMO, the flag state or the licensing authority.”

We’ve worked closely with Archipelago Marine Research on trials during 8 fishing trips on board 3 vessels, and as a result we’ve published this 5 page technical paper that highlights what a good system looks like. The paper details the functions of monitoring, the data to be collected, system requirements and how to determine if one is effective. As researchers continue to learn more, we’ll continue to update and improve this guidance. But for now, if you’re considering electronic monitoring, this document is a good place to start.

UPDATE
Pevasa, a company that took part in one of our electronic monitoring trials, has some thoughts on minimum requirements for an effective electronic observation system. Read their comments here.

 



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