Fish Radio
Boats sign up for cameras to monitor their catches
September 21, 2016

Electronic monitoring, sky view Credit:

Electronic monitoring, sky view

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Boats sign up for cameras to monitor their catches. I’ll tell you more after this —

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To get better data on what’s coming over the rails, fishery managers three years ago expanded onboard observer coverage for the first time to include smaller halibut longline vessels.

As we all know who live here some of those boats are too small to carry a person. There are bunk space issues, the wheel house is too small to spread all their stuff and still be able to eat at the galley table and sometimes there’s just no where to put them on deck safely.

Dan Falvey is program director for the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka. ALFA has spearheaded a charge to replace onboard observers with electronic monitoring systems, or EMS.

ALFA has been working to get cameras on the boats that turn on when they start hauling, take video images of the fish coming out of the water and someone back on shore counts them and identifies the species after the trip.  

Armed with funding from NOAA Fisheries and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, ALFA aims to equip up to 90 longline vessels and 30 pot boats with EMS next year.

About 70 boats signed up by yesterday’s deadline. The monitoring equipment, which takes about a day to install, will be provided at no cost through the EM Cooperative Research Program.

It includes a control center connected to GPS and cameras to monitor the lines for species identification, a deck camera to track discards and a seabird camera.  The system will be turned on only if a vessel is selected randomly prior to a fishing trip.

We’ll get that installed on the boats and next year before they go fishing  they just log their trip in and if the system says you have to have at-sea monitoring, you just flip the switch and fish like you normally do.  

More boats are needed to help pilot the EMS project. Anyone interested should still sign up Falvey says as they may be included  as funding permits, and   can also be part of future programs.

Details will be finalized at next month’s North Pacific Council meeting in Anchorage.

Thanks to the assist from KCAW/Sitka.

Contact Liz Chilton:  Phone: 206-526-4197   Email:

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at  – In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.