Electronic Monitoring Program Toolkit: A Guide for Designing and Implementing Electronic Monitoring Programs

EM Info Admin EM Info Admin

Published October 15, 2018
  • This comprehensive 15-page report published in October, 2018 by The Nature Conservancy walks the reader through design and implemenation of an EM program.

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    From the Introduction:

    The majority of global fisheries lack the scientific and compliance data necessary for effective management. A variety of approaches and tools can facilitate data collection on the water and help ensure compliance, yet the use of human observers or other reporting or patrol options tend to be infrequently used, subject to bias and misreporting, and are typically expensive to employ. The lack of accurate on-the-water data collection hampers the ability of fishery managers to assess the health of fish stocks and to effectively manage fisheries, potentially resulting in economic losses, declining fish populations, and a degraded marine environment. Accordingly, many fishery managers have begun to look to new technologies to help fill in critical data gaps.

    Electronic Monitoring (EM) has the potential to be a scalable solution for collecting critical data and using it to employ new management strategies, enable robust assessment of fish stock health, and facilitate accurate monitoring of vessel compliance with the concomitant reduction of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. In fact, EM has been shown to perform commensurately with, or in many instances, outperform, other at-sea monitoring tools (e.g., human observers and logbooks) with regards to accuracy, cost, and data integrity, and EM performance is continuously improving (see Box 1). EM also offers promising applications that are beneficial to industry, such as enhancing crew and observer safety and preventing theft or shrinkage of catch.

    This toolkit presents an overview of key questions and issues that may arise when governmental bodies in general, and fishery managers in particular, are considering the development and implementation of EM programs. For purposes of this toolkit, EM refers to a system that includes cameras, hard drives (or similar data storage or transmission devices), electronic storage and optional gear sensors installed on fishing vessels. The EM system is used in conjunction with GPS data to provide detailed information on fishing locations, times, methods and/or total catch and bycatch (including discards). Other electronic information systems such as e-logbooks may be used independently or in conjunction with EM systems. However, this toolkit is confined to EM systems.

    How to Use this Toolkit

    This toolkit is a guide that is written in sequence, walking through the main steps to consider when developing an EM program. The toolkit identifies key decision points and potential outcomes, beginning with program planning and system design, followed by program costs, evaluation, and adaptation. Understanding how a general EM program operates, and how a program may be adapted over time, should inform overall program design. The guide may be useful to first in full, and then revisit separate sections as necessary.

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