Objective: Implementation of Electronic Monitoring (EM) as a Compliance Monitoring tool on participating EFP vessels to achieve effective individual accountability of catch and bycatch in the Pacific Trawl Rationalization Program, with anticipated EM regulation in the Whiting and Fixed Gear fleets in 2017. PSMFC is also testing the viability of EM as a source of data to document total catch accounting on longline vessels in the Alaska groundfish fisheries.

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) launched the Electronic Monitoring (EM) program in 2012 in anticipation of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) considering EM as a compliance monitoring tool in the Pacific Trawl Rationalization Program. During the April 2013 PFMC meeting, “the Council indicated their desire to move ahead with consideration of electronic monitoring (EM) by stating that compliance monitoring, rather than the collection of biological data, would be the primary focus for EM in the trawl catch share program[…]”

In 2014, PFMC approved four exempted fishing permit (EFP) applications for the 2015-2016 fishing seasons that would allow vessels to use EM as the compliance monitoring tool while fishing in lieu of a human compliance monitor. In 2014, an EM working group was established for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) to explore the possibility of using cameras for the purposes of total catch accounting in the small boat fleet.

The EM program has deployed EM systems on volunteer catch share fishing vessels fishing bottom trawl, fixed, and midwater trawl gears off the coast of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Each vessel has one of two types of EM systems deployed in the fishery so far; 1. Archipelago Marine Research’s system or 2. Saltwater, Inc.’s system. The field work to date has helped provide a better understanding of field operation requirements and limitations. It also created a controlled setting for deployment of EM technology and enabled industry to gain familiarity with EM systems.

EM systems consist of closed-circuit cameras, drum rotation and hydraulic pressure sensors, a control box and monitor, and a GPS receiver. These collect video imagery and fishing activity information on a hard drive that is sent to PSMFC which currently stores, reviews and analyzes the EM data as it is retrieved from participating vessels.

Logbooks to collect skipper provided retained and discard catch data have been developed. The data are entered into an Access database housed at PSMFC. The skipper catch data are compared to video recorded catch data.

Video data are also being compared to data gathered by the Fisheries Observation Science Program.

PSMFC will be running studies to address the inherent difficulty of identifying species and estimating weight of discards from video imagery. Since Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) is currently allocated to IFQ species and species groupings, the weight of discarded fish is debited from vessel accounts at a species or grouping level. Therefore, the species and weight of discarded catch is crucial information for quota management where selective discarding of IFQ species is allowed.