Fish Radio
Electronic monitoring project needs boats to get things moving
August 13, 2013                     Fisheries ObserversElectronic monitoring project needs boats to get things moving

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Want electronic monitoring instead of observers? Boats are needed to test out the gear.  More after this –

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 Starting this year and for the first time, fishery observers are required aboard Alaska’s long line fleet of roughly 15-hundred boats. Managers want a better idea of what’s coming up on those miles of hooks and lines, no matter what the vessel size.  

Fishermen who badly want to displace onboard observers with cameras can help shape the electronic monitoring push underway by NOAA Fisheries by testing it out on the water.  

 We are really dependent on the fishing industry to help us with this stuff. We are looking for partners and folks who will work with us to take it out on their boats and be creative. Help us understand their operations and how we can best work those camera systems into those operations so it works. 28

 Martin Loefflad is NOAA’s director of the Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division of the North Pacific  Observer Program at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. He says it is one thing to use cameras to track bycatch and compliance as on bigger vessels, but very different for getting reliable research data.

 One of the challenges is everyone has a different idea of what you can do with technology. And it’s east to thing about just put a camera on the boat. But where the rubber meets the road and we’ve got to now get the information that camera has just observed  , try to respect people ‘s privacy, but get the requisite information we do to manage a fishery and get it extracted and into someone’s hands for using in real time. 14

 Loefflad is often asked why Alaska isn’t copying Canada’s EM program and says it’s misunderstood. Fishermen use a logbook system that records catches and bycatches set by set. The onboard cameras act as an audit.  

 It’s very labor intensive on the industry’s part because they have a high very high level of recording responsibility with their logbooks and it is used as a basis for management and then the cameras are simply the compliance check to see if the industry is following the logbook correctly.     

 In Alaska, small EMS and GPS pilot projects are already underway in Homer and Sitka.

Loefflad says the more  longline and pot boats that help field test the systems, the faster those onboard observers will be out of your bunks.

  We are looking for volunteers – once someone volunteers we will coordinate with them to try and get our partner Saltwater , Inc. out to their boats to install the equipment , show them how it works, and at that point there is not much they need to do at that point but go fishing and let us know when they get back.  

Fishermen are also being asked for input on draft guidelines for the observer program.    

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. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.