We are currently conducting a three-year electronic monitoring project in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Community Sector, and Ecotrust Canada in an effort to help the New England groundfish industry reduce monitoring costs and promote the overall economic viability of the industry.
The project will develop and test an affordable, open-source electronic monitoring system on seven active groundfish vessels in the Gulf of Maine to test its potential as an alternative to at-sea monitoring.
The first year of the project (Fishing Year 2013) was a training period to fine-tune the methodology, with the majority of the data collection and analysis to be conducted in second year. Preliminary findings uncovered the importance of an intellectual property and data confidentiality agreement, a vessel monitoring plan, and a real-time feedback loop that were used to improve electronic monitoring data quality in the second year of the project.
The second year of the project (Fishing Year 2014) saw an increase in the number of participating vessels from two to seven, as well as the addition of improved technologies to the existing system. These improvements primarily included an upgraded hardware/software package, as well as the addition of a third camera used for monitoring, both of which further improved data quality and reliability. With over 100 fishing days’ worth of data collected, and positive feedback from the participating captains, the project continues to gain momentum heading into year three. A report synthesizing the results from year two is available below.
The third year of the project (Fishing Year 2015) continues to investigate and resolve differences between current data sources and electronic monitoring data on participating vessels. Also, project partners are working with NOAA to develop protocols and databases for the agency to compare electronic monitoring, vessel trip reports, and at-sea monitoring discard estimates in an effort to facilitate early implementation of electronic monitoring for a segment of the fleet in Fishing Year 2016.