Electronic Monitoring System
The Fisheries Sampling Branch (FSB) of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) conducted a study in conjunction with Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., to test the applicability of Electronic Monitoring (EM) technology to collect catch and fishing effort data aboard commercial vessels. The goal of the study was to evaluate the utility of EM as a means to monitor catch on a real-time basis in the Northeast groundfish sector fleet. EM data were collected from 2010-2013 and the study concluded in the spring of 2014. Participating vessels were based out of a variety of ports in New England to reflect differences in fishing activity over the geographic range of the groundfish fishery and assess the use of EM data in sector-based management. Data obtained from the EM system were compared to other catch reporting sources such as observer data and vessel trip reports. Results from the study can be used by managers and the industry to determine if EM is a suitable and cost effective alternative.
The EM System
EM technology used in the EM project comprised a control box, user interface (monitor and keyboard), up to four closed circuit television cameras, a GPS receiver, a hydraulic pressure transducer, and a drum rotation sensor. The control box (mounted in the wheelhouse) received input from the sensors and logged digital video imagery. Cameras began recording when the pressure transducer or drum sensor registered activity (setting gear, retrieval, etc.). Cameras recorded activity on deck with a focus on discarded groundfish species. Cameras were mounted in various locations based on several factors; size of vessel, type of fishery, hauling areas, discard chutes/conveyors/scuppers, stern/aft ramp and catch sorting areas.
- The EM system used consisted of 2-4 cameras, a control box, a user-interface (monitor), GPS receiver, and two sensors (hydraulic and rotation)
- Cameras began recording when the sensors were triggered by the drum rotation sensor or hydraulic pressure transducer.
- Camera views were set up to either focus on the areas of the deck where catch handling occurs (i.e. sorting table, hauling station, checker pen, etc.) or as a general view of the deck to record overall catch handling and discarding activity.
- Cameras were set up to turn on at the beginning of the first fishing event (i.e. winch or hauler put in gear) and then to either turn off following the fishing event or to record fishing activity for the remainder of the trip. Camera recording settings depended on the fishing gear used, monitoring approach, and program objectives.
- The system did not record audio.
For more detailed information regarding the system, installation specifications regarding power needs and to determine if your vessel is suitable for the EMS system please refer to the Vessel Preparation Letter.
Thirteen volunteer vessels were equipped with the EM system at some time during the EM study. The study originally had space to accommodate up to ten vessels, but this number was expanded to fifteen when additional vessels expressed interest.
The volunteer vessels represented the three primary gear types used in the groundfish fishery (bottom otter trawl, gillnet, and longline) and included ports from Port Clyde, Maine to Point Judith, RI. EM project staff solicited volunteer vessels during the study by contacting sector managers and individual vessels, and by conducting public outreach sessions at industry events (see distribution map).
EM Study Reports and Outreach Materials
The FSB has created a series of outreach materials available to interested industry members, sector managers, NOAA staff, and other interested parties. If you have any questions regarding the documents below please contact Nichole.Rossi@noaa.gov.
- New England Electronic Monitoring Project Final Report, Phase III (July 2014)
- Weight Estimation and Species Identification Technical Report, Phase II (September 2012)
- 2010 Electronic Monitoring System Annual Report, Phase I (August 2011)
- EMS Pilot Study Fact Sheet
- EMS Poster Presentation
- EMS Pilot Study Fishermen's Fact Sheet
- EMS Fisher Letter (for participating vessels)
- EMS Vessel Preparation Letter
- EMS Frequently Asked Questions
- EMS Newsletter (Vol. 1, Issue 1; November 2010)
- EMS Newsletter (Vol.2, Issue 1; April 2011)
EM Contract Information
For more information on the electronic monitoring contract statement of work (contract objectives, scope, and outcomes) for the Fisheries Sampling Branch, please see the Request for Proposals (RFP) that was used to solicit and award the contract.
Regional Perspective on EM
Staff from FSB attended a regional EM workshop and national EM workshop where stakeholders from the Northeast and around the country met to discuss barriers to implementation of EM, costs associated with EM, and updates on progress made locally and around the country. Summary reports are posted on the website of each workshop.
The New England Fishery Management Council has formed the Electronic Monitoring Working Group (EMWG), a committee made up of NMFS staff, fishing industry members, sector managers, and other stakeholders. The EMWG is tasked with identifying barriers and possible solutions to implementing electronic monitoring in groundfish fishery sectors. EMWG updates and information on upcoming meetings can be found at http://nefmc.org/issues/
To increase the agency's understanding and adoption of electronic monitoring, the National Marine Fisheries Service Leadership Council identified six topic areas needing further exploration. These areas of interest need to be evaluated to produce national guidance and recommendations on the goal of creating a more cost-effective and sustainable monitoring program for US fisheries. In February of 2013, NMFS released a series of six white papers on electronic monitoring to promote discussion and development of a more strategic approach to monitoring in NMFS fisheries. The papers include the following topics; Existing Technologies, Alignment of Objectives, Enforcement, Confidentiality Concerns, Research and Development, and Funding.