After working hard on the water all day, commercial fishermen have to fill out hand-written paperwork — whether they’ve landed a full catch or caught nothing. The time-consuming paper reports can be frustrating, and many are looking forward to moving to an electronic reporting system. Gary Libby, a Port Clyde groundfish fisherman, has been working with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to begin submitting electronic vessel trip reports.
"Real-time reporting is going to be a big help to the fleet,” said Gary.
Electronic reports have recently been approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as an optional replacement for paper. GMRI worked with 30 fishermen to pilot electronic software last year, and now several fishermen, including Libby, are actively using it. Our scientists help equip vessels, provide training, troubleshoot problems, and collaborate with developers and regulators. Although there is a learning curve, the overall response from fishermen has been positive. Electronic reporting expedites data entry, enables near real-time tracking, reduces the chance for error, and maintains a logbook of data for future reference. We expect to bring more fishermen online soon.