Scottish science applications of Remote Electronic Monitoring

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Published March 23, 2017
  • Needle, Dinsdale, Buch, Rui, Catarino, Drewery, Butler; ICES J Mar Sci (2015) 72 (4): 1214-1229

    Abstract

    Part of the European Union (EU) Common Fisheries Policy revision of 2013 is a commitment to implement a land-all policy, under which the practice of discarding caught fish back into the sea will be forbidden. This measure will be applied first to the pelagic fleet in 2015, with a phased implementation for the demersal fleet between 2016 and 2019. As part of trials to determine the efficacy of a land-all policy for North Sea cod (Gadus morhua L.), Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) systems were installed on seven Scottish demersal vessels in 2008. Vessels were permitted additional days-at-sea and cod quota, and were obliged to land all cod caught in the North Sea. This arrangement has been renewed each year as part of the Scottish Cod Conservation Credits scheme, and while the list of vessels involved has not remained constant, the scheme remains attractive to skippers (27 vessels in 2014), has always been oversubscribed, and is likely to remain a key part of the Scottish Government’s approach to land-all enforcement. Marine Scotland Science is granted access to all REM data collected from Scottish vessels. This paper summarizes the scientific analyses carried out using these data from 2008 onwards, including the installation and operation of REM systems for scientific purposes; the programme developed to train REM analysts; systems for combining length measurements with fish counts; the potential use of REM data in management advice; and studies on such aspects as discard-rate estimation, activity mapping, estimating the relative costs of on-board and REM observation, morphometric length inference, and automated image analysis. We conclude that, while further development work is certainly needed, REM provides a rich source of fisheries information for science as well as for compliance and management. However, care will need to be taken to ensure that science monitoring and analysis resources do not become overwhelmed.

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