Fish Radio
Pot cod boats closer to EMS
November 3, 2106

Unloading pot-caught cod Credit: Ocean Beauty Seafoods

Unloading pot-caught cod
Credit: Ocean Beauty Seafoods

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Pot cod boats are leading the push for electronic monitoring. More boats are needed. That’s up after this –

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Pot cod boats are in the pre-implementation stage of making electronic monitoring a reality. That’s due to a steadfast push for three years by the Homer-based North Pacific Fisheries Association and Saltwater, Incorporated, a leader in data collection since 1988. The EM systems can replace or augment onboard observer coverage.

Armed with funding by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the partnership has shown that pot cod is a fishery that fits the bill.

“And they said, hey, they are talking about EM and we believe pot cod is a fishery that is made for EM. And they reason they said that is because of the way fish come on board.”   

Nancy Munro is Saltwater founder and president.  Starting in 2013, the pot codders set out to prove that EM could be cost effective and clearly show what’s coming aboard.

“From 2013-2015 we had up to five boats and 13,000 pot hauls. And what we were looking for and what NMFS needs to know is what is being caught out there. Saltwater data reviewers were able to identify 99.6 percent of the more than 55,000 catch items to a species or a species group level. So it was like, wow, this works.”  

That really caught federal managers’ attention, Monro says, but they wanted more.

“Then NMFS said I know, but to really do fish management we need to weights of catch and discards.”

Saltwater and fishermen worked out ways to get that data by devising measuring grids on fish sorting tables.

“So we developed a digital ruler where you just line up the fish and the reviewer goes ‘click click’ at the nose and the tail and we’ve developed software that calibrates it and you can get just like that an estimate of length.  On the basis of all this work, the Council voted and said ok this fishery is ready to go ahead for pre-implementation.”

Munro says now more pot cod boats are needed to test out EM systems starting January 1. All costs will be covered by the grant money.

“We will work around their schedules to get them installed so they will be ready to go January first.”

Interested? Contact Saltwater, Incorporated or the North Pacific Fisheries Association.

Learn more about electronic monitoring this month at Pacific Marine Expo. www.pacificmarineexpo.com – and find links at our website www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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