Alaska Fishermen Will Shape EMS Program


This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini – It’s the fishermen who will shape Alaska’s electronic monitoring program. More after this –

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Fish Radio has talked about the need for volunteer boats to test out new electronic monitoring systems.  But what does the new onboard technology actually involve for fishermen?  Each boat is different but the systems is  quite simple –

“The basic package is two cameras – a hydraulic sensor, a magnetic sensor – we have motion detection in the cameras so we have a variety of ways to determine what is happening. We also have a GPS sensor, an external device, and then there is a server and a monitor so that the fishermen can see what’s going on and make sure the system is working.”  



Tim Carroll is CEO of Saltwater, Inc. which has been providing fishery observers in Alaska for over 20 years.  He says the main task for fishermen is to simply keep the camera lenses clean.


“The ocean spray or any water that gets up there will obstruct some of the footage, but it’s designed to be as user friendly as possible.”


For the past couple of years, Saltwater Inc. has partnered with fishermen in Homer, Sitka and Kodiak to test out a first version of the EMS system on about six boats.


“We have learned so much from the boats in Sitka, Homer and Kodiak – the ones who have carried the systems so far have had a direct impact on the improvements we are making to the system.”


Carroll  can’t emphasize enough how much is learned from the volunteers –


“I can’t begin to stress how important it is to see the various fisheries and the various boats, and to learn from the different fishermen about how they are fishing and how we can make this system work for them.” 

What do they learn?


“Things like the camera placement – the type of cameras we are using, the power – what type of power is available on the boat and how do we adopt the system to be as universal to the various power systems that are out there, the placement of the equipment – how is it the least intrusive to the fishermen, how can we make it as user friendly to the fishermen so they can see that the system is working, and with the sensors – how can we place the sensors to be as least intrusive on the vessel and have the least impact on the fishing activity as we can and still be able to operate the system.”


The more boats that help test the EMS, the faster the program can be out on the water. Carroll says the fishermen are the ones who will make it work.


“The opportunity these fishermen have to shape what is arguably a new technology and a new way of collecting data – it’s just a great opportunity and I would encourage as many fishermen as possible to jump on board.”  


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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, celebrating 101 years of partnership with Alaska’s coastal communities.  In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.